All relationships have to deal with change over time. Some of these are significant challenges, such as sickness or leaving a great distance from each other. It may be that your college friends are moving in a new direction that you did not expect and find challenging.
Whatever the situation, maintaining emotional bonds can feel almost impossible.
Whether your relationship is with a sibling, an old school friend or our spouse, there is usually room for positive change.
Here we look at the top three ways to improve your relationships.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
A happy relationship is when the individuals involved are honest, trusting and accepting of each other.
This acceptance comes from having a positive perspective about each other, focusing on the good things the other brings into the relationship rather than the negatives.
This does not mean we are not aware of our friend’s faults, or our own, but rather that we appreciate all that is good and accept everything else that it is not our responsibility to change.
Seeing a friend or life partner in a more positive light means that there are fewer occasions in which events can feel negative because a positive outlook means giving each other the benefit of the doubt.
This positivity can translate into good things in all areas of our lives, for example, having an idea for 50th wedding anniversary celebrations that you are confident they will love. This is because you know these people will appreciate the thought, effort and time that has gone into making a happy event.
Leave the Past Where It Belongs
It is often the case that issues from the past can negatively affect the chances of a healthy relationship in the future.
Your thinking may be going back to the past because you find it difficult to let go of resentment or because whatever happened was something you find unforgivable.
Working out why you carry the resentment can make clear what work you need to do on yourself and what you want from your current relationships.
Dealing with relationship problems can be challenging if an emotional issue from our past is creating a barrier. At these times, it is wise to seek help before the damage to your relationship is irreparable.
Statistics show that couples that experience difficulties can wait on average for six years before making an appointment with a professional adviser to help them.
Save yourself from unhappy years by dealing with issues as they arise. This investment of time and effort is worth making and will improve your relationships.
Arguing Is an Artform
Since we are not clones of the people we have relationships with, it is natural that we will be confronted with situations that make us unhappy and arguing can be a healthy way of communicating how we feel as long as we agree to argue along similar lines or following a few simple rules.
This means that arguments can be resolved without resentment festering.
There are different ways to do this, either by using humour, acknowledgement, working together to fix the issue or backing down.
As long as the other person feels heard and their feelings acknowledged, an argument can be clarified and settled and everyone can move on.
However, nothing is perfect and some arguments need you to take a break for 20 minutes and agree to talk on the topic again when everyone is calmer and able to stay focused on the argument, not on your emotional anger or upset, and make sure not to place blame on the other person.