You are no doubt reading this because you want to find out how to improve your relationship. Do you want to know one of the best ways to do so?
Forget about the word “relationship” completely!
You must be joking!
Not at all. We use the word relationship rather loosely and we think we know what it means. But do we really?
What do you think about when you hear the word relationship? Romance, dating, marriage; or divorce, abusive relationships and so on?
All these apply. But clearly there’s more to it too.
A relationship is all about relating
The word “relationship” is an abstract noun that stems from the verb “to relate.” (Note the difference between “abstract” as opposed to the verb, “relate” which is a practical doing word.)
A relationship is what you have between two people. It’s the connection. Relating is what you can personally do about making that connection work.
A Practical Exercise
As a quick exercise think about how you relate or did relate to your father.
That brings up a lot of thoughts doesn’t it? There are wonderful thoughts, there are resentments, there are regrets and there are things that you would have wanted to do differently if you only had the chance.
In the same way, you can think about how you relate to other family members, to your friends, to your loved ones and so on.
A One to One Relationship
Suddenly your world begins to expand. You start to think about the people you know on a one to one basis. You think about your pets and how you relate to them. When you broaden your thoughts a little more you may even think about our planet and how we can improve it by relating to it in a more sensitive way.
And that’s the real secret – relating to someone or something is always about a one to one relationship. And that’s really great. Because in a one to one relationship we can truly be effective.
“Relationships” in the plural are abstract – they are somewhere out there and they don’t provide us with any solutions. But consider how you would like to relate to one person in particular and suddenly there’s a rush of ideas. Suddenly you can think of a whole lot of new ways that you can use to relate to that person a lot better.
Think about your mother – not only when Mother’s Day approaches. How can you relate to her with more sensitivity – and I don’t mean by taking her flowers but possibly by simply listening more attentively to what she wants to talk about.
A Romantic Relationship
The same applies to your romantic relationships. “How to improve your relationship” is such an “out there” concept. Rather think about what you can do in a practical way that will help you to relate more closely to your loved one.
Then watch the ideas flood in: you can be more sensitive, you can allocate more time to conversation, you can go out and do something you both enjoy or you could take up a new hobby together and so on.
If you really want to “improve your relationship” – get rid of the phrase first and start to think about the practical things you can do that will help you to relate in a way that will bring you closer. This will make everything so much more attainable.