Relationships thrive when people are emotionally available to each other, and provide each other with time and attention. It’s almost unreal that while global communication reaches new heights with each passing day, interpersonal communication between families, friends and relatives has seen a downward spiral.
Make time; find time
Simply making time for each other so that talking is natural and a part of your every day routine also seems like a challenge to many. Being in the same room as your partner and children while reading newspapers, watching TV, doing office work, surfing the ‘Net, or doing one’s own thing, is not spending time with your family.
When you forget to make time for each other, communication stops, and this is the point when relationships begin to breakdown. Studies show a direct association between the quality of a couple’s communication skills and the quality of their relationship. People don’t always analyse their relationship, or talk about the problems in their relationship, but they need to have an understanding between them that when something needs to be said, it will be said.
Psychologists emphasise the need for couples and children to share: the big, important issues like future plans and ambitions on the part of the parents and little hopes, dreams and fears of your children. The size of what you share is not important, what matters is that you are able to share, and there are your own people who lend you a listening ear without being judgmental.
Make earnest efforts
We need people in our lives. We weren’t meant to go through this life alone. We have to nurture relationships with friends, relatives, colleagues, and neighbours. These are important and, in order to develop and nurture them, one needs to make time and effort. It doesn’t mean physically spending time with them, but letting them know through small gestures how important they are for you and how much you care and appreciate their contribution, even if it is over long-distance. It might take a small effort on our part, a telephone call, a letter, an occasional invitation, a small gift. what we receive in return in terms of emotion is a whole lot more. If it’s impossible to take a weekend away from children, a couple could at least make sure to carve out time for each other every day. This could be just for 20 minutes at night; it enables you to catch up with each other after a busy day.
It’s your time
It’s your time and you need to be possessive about it. Cooking a special dish for your woman, taking turns to clean up, deciding on no-cooking days every month when the woman gets a break from the kitchen, going on short drives post-dinner, cutting down on social obligations and “must-visit” events can be a good idea too. Your commitment is first to your family. Set your personal boundaries, be firm about them, and no business obligations can cross them. Giving children one-to-one time instead of hurried leftover pieces of attention, delegating work and allowing them to take responsibility for their actions, making them feel that you are around for them, can be general guidelines. But, ultimately every child is different. Only parents can find out the best ways of dealing with them.
At the same time it is important that you make time to nurture relationships with your friends. Our spouses often are our most intimate friends. But friends, outside of family bonds, can be our greatest comfort and allies. Even making a call to your friend will be helpful. It is not important to meet all the time. You can also show up on time for the party, remember birthdays and other important events, help friends when they’re in need, and do other things that will help you connect better. Once you decide to make time, you will find all possible ways to squeeze in time for them. Friends also help us reduce stress. Not only do they listen to us when we need to vent, but they also provide much needed diversion from what is stressing us.
It’s their time too
Finally, for people to make time for relationships, and for life, they need to understand the concept of equality between partners. It’s not “his time that he is making available to her and the children,” “it is their time and he owes it to them.”
Healthy relationships can happen only between people who feel that they are equal. It’s no longer the man making the decisions regarding financial investments and the woman deciding on the colour of curtains at home. An imbalance in power sharing at home can’t possibly give you a balanced relationship. Making time for relationships in life is all about common sense. But, sometimes common sense is not all that common.
A slight change in attitude of both men and women can tilt the scales in favour of relationships. It shouldn’t, therefore, be difficult to strive to make your life and yet have the time of one’s life!
Tips for Making Time for Relationships
Go shopping together. The sheer number of malls that have sprung up offer a great way to spend time with family as well as shop for the house-hold necessities. Make sure you plan what you need for the month and visit the mall on the first weekend. A movie after or before the shopping spree may not be such a bad idea!
End-of-day debriefing time. Share your experience of the day with your loved one. Often dinner time is good. If discussing matters in front of kids is not possible, cosy time at bed is the next best option.
Communicate during breaks. Lunch breaks are ideal to catch up with your loved ones.
SMS during commute. Very often during long commutes, especially in urban India, there is a lot of noise around. Even if you wish to chat during the commute, it is not possible. Use text messaging. Many of the new mobile phones have a chat mode, where in you can chat on SMS.