Valentine’s Season Can Be A Great Time To Reflect On ALL Your Relationships – Not Just Romantic Ones
Relationships – family, romantic, and platonic – are one of the things that define our lives and make them worth living. Humans are social creatures, and we need enjoyable, strong relationships in order to thrive. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this is the time that we tend to think most about our romantic relationships in particular. However, if you’re not in a romantic relationship during the month of February, you might be a) wishing you had a survival guide and could just take the 14th off, or b) you’re indifferent, and simply plan to treat it as you would any normal day.
Whether you’re looking forward to it, dreading it, or don’t care either way, we’d encourage you to use this Valentine’s Day to find a relationship in your life to strengthen. It may be a treasured friendship, a relationship with a family member, a budding romance, or a marriage that has lasted for decades. Whatever the case, pick one and go for it!
To help you get started, we’ve picked some of our favorite tidbits of relationship advice. Read on for some useful tips on strengthening friendships, family relationships, and romantic partnerships.
Strengthening Your Friendships: A Quick Guide
Friendship is the glue that holds humanity together. From our first playdates as toddlers to the mature relationships we enjoy in our golden years, friendship of one sort or another is a constant throughout a healthy life. During school, our friends are usually our favorite peers – ones we relate to, share interests with, and who help us feel secure during a time that’s often tumultuous. During our working years, our closest friends might become our co-workers (if we’re lucky enough to have ones we easily get along with), fellow church members, neighbors, or people we meet through clubs, classes, and hobbies.
Whatever stage of life you might be in, we hope you can take some of these tips and apply them to your friendships to make them even stronger than they already are. (These are the accumulation of years of study by Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., who has studied friendship throughout her career.)
- Make time for conversation. In our busy lives, it can seem hard to find time to just enjoy some quality conversation. Making this a priority in your friendships will help them stay up-to-date, fresh, and enjoyable. You can do this through text, lunch plans, an evening out, and more!
- Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is hard. Often, we have a tendency to want to impress those we love and look up to, which means steering the conversation away from our weaknesses and failings. But we’re all human, and need people to confide in. It’s during moments like these that the deepest, purest friendships are built. And if your friend offers feedback, don’t be afraid to take it into consideration!
- Remember special dates and occasions. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, or something more difficult (such as the year mark of a parent or loved one’s death), write it down! Even doing something small to acknowledge the day can go a long way towards letting them know you care.
- Show gratitude. A simple ‘thank you for your friendship’ can be very touching, and will reassure your friend that you notice what they do for you and it makes a difference in your life.
- Set goals and keep each other accountable. Personal growth is rewarding and fulfilling, and there’s nothing better for friendships than setting and accomplishing goals together. Whether it’s fitness, healthier eating, tackling work issues, or facing down depression, share your goals and successes together!
Strengthening Your Family Relationships
Aaaaahhh family. We all have them, we didn’t pick them, and they have the most influence in our lives of any other humans on the planet. Though (in most cases) we love them very much and would do anything for them, family members can also be a bit of a struggle sometimes. Whether your family is tight-knit and loving, you’re working through a tough situation, or any combination of the two (or something else entirely – we recognize that every family situation is different) here are some tips that can help you strengthen those important bonds.
- Make time for each other. This one can seem like a no-brainer, but we would bet that it might be among the hardest things to do on this list. People of all ages across the United States are simply overbooked – between school, work, sports, hobbies, and other interests, it can be hard to just make time for each other. We highly encourage families to prioritize time together. This can be anything from a simple trip to the park one evening to a week long family vacation. The bottom line is: quality time doing wholesome recreational activities is a surefire way to strengthen the entire family.
- Eat meals together a few times a week – and put away the smartphones! Focus the conversation on each other, and use this time to follow up on important things in your family’s lives. According to Verywell Family: “Studies have shown that eating meals together has positive effects on children’s physical and mental well-being. It can also reinforce communication and strengthen family bonds.” Don’t discount this important and simple way to build a solid foundation for your family!
- Work together. The family that plays together stays together – and so does the family that works together. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go out and start a family business that everyone should be involved in. It can be as simple as dividing up the chores, volunteering to help clean up your community, or helping fundraise for an upcoming event or vacation. Find what works for your family and enjoy the results!
- Support each other’s interests. Showing interest in your family members’ favorite activities is a great way to build individual relationships. Whether it’s shooting hoops with your basketball-loving sister, hiking with your outdoorsy Mom, cooking with your master-chef Dad, or visiting the local art museum that’s currently hosting your proud five-year-old’s work, your support and interest can make a world of difference.
For more ideas on strengthing your family relationships, check out this great article from Verywell Family!
Last But Not Least: Strengthening Romantic Relationships
As every commercial outlet reminds us this time of year, romantic relationships can be awesome – and also require work to keep them going strong. We found some great advice on how to keep the spark alive, from practical everyday things to special occasions.
- Check in every day. One of the pillars of a successful romantic relationship is communication. That’s why it’s important to take a few minutes every day to check in with each other. It may be over breakfast in the morning, or part of your winding-down routine at night, but make sure you’re taking time to talk.
- Make the best decision for your marriage. The transition from single to committed to another person can be challenging – and can continue to challenge even down the road. Whenever you’re faced with a significant decision, ask yourself which course of action would be best for your marriage. And, of course, remember to discuss it with your spouse if at all possible before committing.
- Create healthy boundaries. When you’re first starting out together, there’s no better time to establish healthy boundaries. This includes with family, friends, and work. While all of those things are important, they can sometimes get in the way of a successful romantic partnership. Have deep, open conversations with each other about the new role of family and friends. And if it’s an issue, make sure you disconnect from 24/7 office culture so that you can have time that’s fully dedicated to each other.
- Be each other’s biggest fans. Don’t forget to cheer each other’s successes! And, of course, console each other after failings. Offering your love and support is one of the greatest gifts that you can give your significant other, so don’t hold back.
Have a comment or suggestion on what has helped you strengthen your relationships? We welcome your insights! If you have questions, or would like to discuss your options when it comes to marriage and family counseling, tackling depression and anxiety, or other issues, feel free to reach out to our Cheyenne therapists at 307-631-5574.