I’ve made some serious changes in my life to make sure my relationships are strong. The biggest change was abandoning an urban life in Chicago (a city my husband and I loved!) to move close to my family in Ohio. I love my relatives more than fancy restaurants, convenient public transportation, and hip co-workers.
But when I say “tend your relationships,” I don’t necessarily mean moving close to your nuclear family. That’s not a great option for a lot of people (financially, professionally, personally, emotionally, whatever the case). Instead, I mean: Make time for people you love. Visit them, call them, support them when they need it, share meals, and be mindful of them.
If you want to be a better adult, you have to pay attention to your relationships and put in the work to keep them healthy.
Part of being a good friend is putting yourself out there, sharing vulnerable truths, offering to help when they’re in tough situations, and making time for them. My closest friends are the ones who don’t mind whether the time together is a major event (like a wedding or baby shower) or a mundane one (like a trip to the grocery store or a night watching Magic Mike XXL).
Putting time into my relationships is why I left my husband and son for a long weekend, to re-connect with girlfriends on the east coast. It’s why I carve out time for casual dinner dates with my husband. It’s why I occasionally pop over to a friend’s house at lunch time while she’s home with kids. If relationships are important to you, you have to be conscientious about the time you put into them.
I’m not an expert, but I do have some good, longtime friendships and close relationships with my siblings and parents. Here are some things I do (and you can do, too) to strengthen your relationships through seemingly small acts.
9 ways to tend your relationships
- Send your sister a text message when you want to make fun of The Voice (or some other show you both love to watch).
- Write an email to a friend in another city to ask how her week is.
- Instant-message your brother a photo of the meal you just made and ask what he’s eating.
- Meet a friend at the bookstore to chat and drink coffee. (Optional: bring your kids and let them go crazy at the train table.)
- Call your college roommate and find out what’s new in her life. (Or text her first to find out if she’s free tonight for the call.)
- Schedule a weekend lunch with your parents, just because. (And if you can, treat them.)
- Tell your husband “thank you” when he does some household task you hate or finishes a project that’s been in progress (in our case: stripping the very old wallpaper from our living room).
- Book plane tickets to visit old friends who live across the country (after consulting them first, of course!).
- Invite friends over for pizza, beer and movie night. (Or game night. Or Saturday brunch. Or Sunday grilling.)
This is the first in our “Manifesto for Adulthood” series, where we share our philosophies for being a better adult in the modern world.
Now tell us: How are you tending your relationships?