Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Magic Keys to Good Relationships

I’ve thought of two virtually magic keys to good relationships. The first is validation. It rests on the idea that everything we do in a relationship is either building it up or tearing it down. Isn’t that a scary thought? When we build up a relationship we confirm our bond with the other person and we affirm the other person. How do we do this? Here is a list of things that build up a relationship:

•Let your eyes light up when you see each other.
•Look into your partner’s eyes.
•Listen, really listen.
•Acknowledge feelings. “That must really hurt.”
•Hold hands.
•Give hugs and say “I love you.”
•Give compliments. “You look nice today.”
•Give appreciation. “Thanks for taking out the trash.”
•Smile and enjoy each other.

Love one another deeply from the heart.” 1Peter 1:22

The second magic key is prayer. Prayer unites us in an eternal purpose beyond our mundane daily life. Praying together bonds us with each other and with God. We cannot hide from God and so a prayerful connection opens our hearts to Him and to each other in a new and almost magical way. If you’ve never prayed together begin with sentence prayers and progress to a time of prayer together when both of you pray. Some couples start their day with prayer and some end their day this way. Do what works for you but take risks and gain the rewards of knowing God and each other better.

Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8

For more on validation see youtube below. It’s worth the time.

Blessings, Dottie

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Risk Taking

For two weeks now I’ve explored thoughts about couples and families who live life on the surface, never really connecting with each other. Last week I suggested asking each other about childhood memories and having fun learning more about the past experiences of loved ones. Today I’ll offer some more topics to deepen relationships.

Some couples find it difficult to communicate about their relationship. When this seems risky, go slowly and keep it positive. Speak about your own thoughts and feelings with sentences that begin with “I think or I feel…” rather than “You think, or you…anything.” When a question or sentence starts with “you” it’s apt to sound blaming or critical to the other person.

Here are some positive ways to begin. Describe the happiest day of your marriage. Tell which vacation was the best one and why. If there’s mutual agreement about having discussions of this kind you can both answer questions such as these: What surprised each of you the most about marriage? About being a parent? About each other? What do you like best about each other? Give positive answers. This is not a time to criticize.

Bring up topics about your future also. What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions? What are your career goals? What do you each hope to be doing five years from now? Ten years from how? What kind of retirement do you hope to have? During all of these discussions be a good listener and be positive in responding to each other. This will encourage further communication.

Next week I’ll continue with an almost magic key to deepening relationships.

A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Taking a Risk

Last week I talked about couples and families who live life on the surface, never really opening up to each other. There are many reasons for this pattern in relationships. At some point in life everyone is hurt by a relationship and we play it safe as a result. Others may have grown up in families with little or no close connection. They get accustomed to the interactions they experienced as children. But no one needs to be stuck in this pattern.

It will feel risky to change things. To start, introduce non-threatening but personal topics. For example, most of us have stories we can tell about our childhood experiences. Take turns telling each other childhood memories. What were you like as a little child? What was the worst thing that happened to you? What was the best? What was the funniest? When were you happiest? Find out all you can about each phase of each other’s life.

An easy way to do this is to get out old photo albums and look through these together, describing your childhoods as revealed in the photos. There’s no need to do this all at once. In fact, if you spend a half hour at a time and keep coming back to it, you may enjoy it more and learn more. Parents can tell children about their childhood in this way also.

Try this and I’ll offer more ideas next week.

Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Play It Safe

It’s easy for a marriage to become routine and distant. We say the same things to each other over and over. "How was your day?" "What's new?" Our questions and our answers are routine. We avoid all topics except those having to do with the children or our work or necessary chores. Or we talk about the news and the weather. We stick to safe topics.

These topics are fine and some of them are necessary in order for a marriage and a family to function. The problem is they don’t help us get close to one another. Nor do they give us much personal information. Some times entire families operate this way. It’s as though each person is in a self contained bubble. We bump up against each other’s bubble with surface talk, without connecting or comprehending or caring and without listening or loving. We see things from our own perspective and may long to connect but don’t know how.

Couples and families can change the way they communicate. One person can change things. One person can vary the routine by making one "different" statement each day. The best way to do this is to start small and positive. Take a risk and tell your loved one some thing positive you’ve never shared before; tell what you appreciate about him/her. This will feel scary and may get no reaction or may not get the reaction you hope for. Over time it can make a difference. We can burst each others bubbles in a gentle and good way. We can stop playing it safe. I’ll say more about this next week.

Let your conversation be always full of grace. Colossians 4:6

Blessings, Dottie