Why All Relationships Must Change And Grow

By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen
Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As our trio of therapists conclude, “You can like, or deeply love, other people. But sometimes, you must change the relationship. How? You need to initiate new, fresh conversations and new activities.”

Tribune News Service

Do you miss some of your old friends who’ve not called you in ages? Or, are you feeling uncomfortable with some family members whose lifestyles differ from yours?

Maybe you’re tired of the same old conversations with your best friend. All you do is talk about his or her divorce or financial problems. There’s a strained feeling between the two of you.

All of us need to fine-tune our relationships occasionally. We need to create some changes, so our connection with someone feels more harmonious.

You can like, or deeply love, other people. But sometimes, you must change the relationship. How? You need to initiate new, fresh conversations and new activities.

“I’ve learned that new goals and activities can help any relationship,” says a woman we’ll call Rita. Rita comes from a large extended family where conflict happens a lot. She believes positive changes can keep relationships from eroding.

Rita is correct. When new activities and conversations enter the picture, you can feel the chemistry improving between yourself and another person.

These tips can help:
-Ask questions to create a new vision. For example, ask your sister if she’d like to join a book club with you. Or, question someone about where they’d like to go on vacation.

-Point out what’s going well in someone’s life. If your best friend is still crying over her divorce, be sure to point out that her health is great and her job is going well. Giving encouragement to anyone will bolster your relationship.

-Concentrate on what makes others feel good. For instance, if your elderly uncle is lost and sad, try getting him to attend a Little League game with you. Or, offer to take him on a drive, so he can view some new scenery.

It’s critical to look at others’ needs while you assess your own. This way, you can make plans that work for both yourself and the other person. This kind of thinking releases tension that might exist between you and someone else.

“My husband and I quarreled constantly over all kinds of crazy things,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Jill. Jill says she finally figured out that both she and her husband needed some changes.

“We were bored and stuck in a rut,” Jill emphasizes.

“I started planning a new activity for us two Saturdays each month,” Jill explains. “We go to a town near our home to see a concert and have dinner. Or, we go through antique shops and have lunch. These excursions aren’t that costly, but we feel like we’re creating some good memories.”

Keep in mind that any relationship will suffer, if things get too emotional or anxiety-provoking.

“My brother had broken up with his girlfriend,” says a friend of ours we’ll call Trey. “He was driving me nuts, and he was driving my wife nuts to line him up a date with one of her friends.”

Trey says he persuaded his brother to join a hiking club with him. “This way, he had a friendly group of people to spend time with,” Trey explains. “Before long, a nice lady joined our group and she is now dating my brother. This hiking group is like a family, and my wife ended up joining as well.”

Keep in mind that people do not change their basic values, personalities, or overall view of the world. However, when you steer them to do something differently, their reactions to life and their enjoyment of life will change. When they feel better, their behavior toward you will improve.
(Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe at Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)

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