The Warm Milk Journal

A nurturing place for people who can't sleep

What Are We Doing To Nurture Our Relationships?


Remember the old Barbara Streisand song: People (“People who need people”..) It may sound a bit cliche but we do need each other. There are scientific studies out there that show evidence that people who are more connected to others live longer, are less depressed, have more energy and purpose, bounce back from illness quicker, and are over all happier.

When we are younger there is more time to cultivate those special friendships and relationships. As we get older we take on more responsibilities and it is easy to neglect our social lives. Relationships are like gardens. They do need tending to in order to thrive.

I have certainly been guilty of not calling my parents as often as I should, losing touch with special friends over the years, forgetting to send birthday cards, etc.

Here are some ideas to feed and water and nurture our relationships:

With our kids, everyday:

  1. tell them we love them
  2. give them a hug
  3. read them a story
  4. give them our undivided attention (even if it is just for a few minutes) regularly
  5. turn off the tv or put the newspaper down
  6. get active together! take a family walk or bike ride
  7. play a game together
  8. sit down at the dinner table and eat together
  9. get to know our kids: ask them questions
  10. plan family outings, adventures, camping trips vacations

With our spouses or partners:

  1. tell them we love them
  2. give them hugs (sounding familiar?)
  3. go on date nights regularly
  4. plan occasional overnight trips even if you have young children
  5. take turns cooking a nice dinner for each other
  6. send little fun or sexy text messages to one another
  7. write notes to each other
  8. light candles and put on nice music for dining
  9. be playful! dance, do something out of the ordinary
  10. really listen to each other
  11. focus on what you appreciate about the other and let them know
  12. smile
  13. strive for understanding instead of “winning” when you have a disagreement
  14. plan fun adventures together
  15. go for walks
  16. turn off the tv
  17. pamper each other: making the coffee, back rubs, doing a household chore without being asked
  18. don’t take things personally
  19. read John Gray’s Mars and Venus book (a must for any couple!)
  20. laugh together
  21. use “I” statements instead of “you” statements when expressing feelings
  22. talk honestly when something comes up  instead of avoiding issues (long term resentment is an absolute love killer)
  23. practice forgiveness

With our colleagues:

  1. greet them warmly each day
  2. smile
  3. be respectful and courteous
  4. practice using “I” statements instead of “you” statements
  5. collaborate
  6. practice gratitude as much as possible
  7. be helpful
  8. get together for coffee or lunch once in a while
  9. ask them how they are doing and mean it
  10. be positive

With our parents:

  1. call them regularly
  2. thank them regularly
  3. ask them if there is anything we can do for them
  4. practice forgiveness knowing they did their best with what they had

With our friends:

  1. check in with someone you haven’t heard from in a while
  2. send  or email them a note of appreciation
  3. take them out for lunch or coffee and catch up
  4. find new ways to have fun together
  5. make time for the friendship

With strangers: the world is smaller than we think. How we treat the person checking out our groceries or the person in the vehicle in front of us on the highway does make a difference in the quality of our lives.

  1. smile and greet everyone we encounter
  2. volunteer our time at a school, senior citizen organization, hospital, food bank, etc.
  3. help a neighbor
  4. pay for the vehicle’s coffee behind us the next time we drive through Starbucks
  5. be happy, positive, and enthusiastic ourselves and our good energy will benefit others

Yes, Facebook, texting, email, twitter, and all forms of new social media are wonderful for staying connected with each other. But let’s not totally rely on these methods of communicating and relating. I just read this week in the newspapers that teenagers’ preferred way of communicating is texting. I believe talking with each other on the phone or in person(even better!), and even an old fashioned hand written letter are still very important and more meaningful interpersonal interactions than electronic media.

Yes, we are busy. Some of us are naturally extroverted. Some us have more introverted natures and tend to hole up in our caves. We do need each other. We benefit greatly if we making tending to the relationships in our lives a priority. What we give we do get back.

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April 29, 2010 - Posted by | Self-empowerment | , , ,

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