Few people would argue with the statement that relationships are what matter most in life, yet many of us struggle, unsure how to create strong, lasting relationships. Maybe it’s because we know relationships are what really matter and that creates stress and anxiety, maybe because we live in a society where things sometimes seem to matter more than people, maybe it’s because we simply have a hard time focusing. . . whatever the reason, our relationships sometimes suffer.

A Way We Are Now report reveals what more than 6,000 people identified as the three main priorities in a relationship. And the good news? All three are in our control.

Honesty

Seventy percent of the survey respondents chose honesty as the most important aspect of a relationship. That shouldn't come as a surprise. We obviously don’t feel comfortable, safe, or secure with people we don’t trust. Honesty creates trust, and relationships where you can trust each other are the safest relationships.

Communication

Talking with each other ranked second on the list. Who can argue with that? Relationships are all about connecting, and connection is impossible without communication. Advice on communicating in relationships surrounds us, but you’ll find a few basic principles that are constant.

Good communication is built on the following:

·      Trust (there’s that word again

·      Active listening—don’t just pretend to listen while you’re really looking for a break in the conversation so you can jump in. Listen to the words they are saying, and be aware of body language too. Don’t interrupt.

·      Not judging—accept what they say without trying to change their feelings or opinion.

·      Empathy—put yourself in the other person’s position. Honestly try to see why they feel the way they feel and why they do the things they do.

And take note: Strong relationships are often very resilient, but they can be thrown into crisis by life events, such as the birth of a child or serious illness in the family. During these times, it’s even more important that you communicate carefully.  

Commitment

This may be a no-brainer, but it doesn't mean it's not important. Commitment is essential to strong relationships that last. Make your relationships a priority in your life by making time for relationships. Identify what commitment looks like. Maybe you want to connect on a daily basis or schedule regular time in your calendar to do things. Then make sure you follow through on those things.

If you want to make your relationships even stronger, keep these three priorities in mind. Strengthening relationships is possible—and worth every effort! 

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