Sometimes I think of relationships as a garden—they require nurturing and TLC.
Life has its ups and downs but during tough times (such as we’ve been experiencing the last number of months), more concerted effort is required to ensure our relationships stay strong and nurturing.
Here are 6 ways to endure trying times and have your relationships emerge even stronger.
- Stay Positive. I know staying positive during tough times can be difficult, but this is the best way to position yourself to sail through and even grow both as a person and in your relationships.
When you put in the effort to remain positive, you bring all the fruits of that same positive outlook into your life. For example, if you love to travel with your friend or loved one and now you can’t due to restrictions in certain parts of the world, you can still explore new areas together. Maybe you can visit a new coffee shop in town, or even go on a camping adventure. This may not be the trip to Italy that you had planned, but you can still have a wonderful, rewarding experience that will allow you to come closer and enjoy time together.
- Be Creative. Step back and see the bigger picture. Learn from the difficulties you may face and think outside the box about solutions that can solve the supposed barriers.
Leadership guru John Maxwell has told his flock, “Facing difficulties is inevitable, learning from them is optional,” and I agree with this. We all have challenges that come up in our lives, but it is how we look at those challenges and handle them is what matters.
If you’re currently struggling in a particular relationship due to spending too much time together for so long and now having more to do on your own, become creative with your plan. Make sure you have a weekly fun rendezvous, even if just to order in, sit on the couch, and watch a classic funny movie (Legally Blonde, anyone?). Plan your schedules together and make sure you block off time together when you don’t have to work. And remember that these times don’t have to be at night, but can even be in the morning (how about breakfast), or at lunch. Make a point of having a meal together every day or every week to spend time catching up. Whatever the possibility looks like to you, seize the opportunity to come out stronger and closer than before.
- Focus on What You Can Control. You can’t control everything in life, so don’t spend time worrying about what you can’t do anything about. Instead, focus on the parts you can change.
Look at what you’re experiencing in your relationship. If you’re not spending enough time with that good friend or love interest, add in more time. If you’re spending too much time together, figure out what you both like to do and decide which activities you love doing together and which ones you can each do on your own. A relationship doesn’t need to go too far in either direction. Calculate the balance that works for you two and focus on improving that—not trying to change the schedule the other person has, for instance.
- Forgive. This can be hard to do sometimes, but try to accept what happened, don’t hold a grudge, and move forward.
We all make mistakes, and in a relationship those mistakes can sometimes be a breaking point. If your friend or partner has made a mistake and you want to learn from that and try again, take the time to soften your stance and allow yourself to forgive that person. By forgiving, you can move forward and build a more enduring relationship. Not forgiving will only hurt you yourself more in the end.
- Maximize Respect. Be receptive and respect your partner’s and friends’ emotions, opinions, and life goals. This creates honesty, trust, greater friendship, intimacy, and love.
When you have mutual respect in your relationships you will have strong foundations to build these relationships on. You can both respect the opinions of one another without degrading them. You can learn to trust them and believe in them and they will do the same for you. If you’re facing an issue over mutual respect, sit down with your partner or friend and have an honest conversation to see if you can change that for the better.
- Put in the effort. If both you and your partner or friend can endure money difficulties, illnesses, family issues, or life-altering experiences that result in high levels of stress and still show support and love to each other the relationship is built to last.
Over the last many months we have all had many opportunities to put in the extra effort, become creative, and learn to care for each other even more during some of the most difficult times. If you two have succeeded at that, you have a relationship that can most likely withstand almost anything. And you probably learned some new lessons and grew as a person during that time too. That is cause for celebration, so celebrate together. You have a wonderful relationship understanding and a base to grow on for a long time to come.