There's a lot of talk about how to keep our hearts healthy. Eat right, exercise, take one aspirin a day, eat foods low in cholesterol, get plenty of rest, and the list goes on. Just as we have information to help us keep our heart healthy, we can also do certain things to keep relationships “heart healthy.”
Today, people are so busy with work, children, extracurricular activities and who knows what else. As a result of such a busy lifestyle, family relationships can suffer.
In order to build healthy relationships, you must be intentional and committed.
Heart healthy relationships have certain characteristics, including:
Humor – Appropriate humor can help defuse a potentially volatile situation. People say that laughter is good for the soul, but guess what? It's also good for relationships!
Appropriate Expectations – Many people have unrealistic expectations of their mate and their children. Pushing children to excel, stressful jobs, competitive sports and life in general are part of the problem. Learn to keep things in perspective and ask, "What is important in the long run?" The answer can help shed light on what really matters in life. Most would agree that the relationship between child, parent or spouse is much more important than straight A's or a spotless house.
Appreciation – Sometimes people are so busy “doing” life that they fail to appreciate the people they care about the most. When is the last time you sent a card to a friend for no reason? Or told your spouse you how much you appreciate all he/she does for your marriage and family - without adding, “I only wish…”? Have you ever let your child know you are honored to be their parent?
Respect - Experts suggest that you never second-guess your spouse in front of the children or anyone else. If you want your children to learn how to treat others with respect, model it for them. That means talking to each other appropriately and not talking badly about your spouse to a third party. Try asking, “Does what I am about to do or say build up this person or tear them down?”
Spending time wisely – How do you spend it? If you knew you didn’t have much time left, would you start spending your time differently? If the answer to that question is yes, now may be a good time for you to examine your priorities. Heart healthy relationships happen when people spend time together connecting on a consistent basis.
A line in a Garth Brooks song says, “If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?” Do the people in your life know how much you care? Do your children know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love them – not the grades they bring home?
If your relationships are not where you want them to be, you can still do something different.
Having heart healthy relationships is about loving the people in your world - your mate, elderly neighbor, your children, parents, etc. Be intentional. Try practicing one characteristic from the list above today. When you put your head down on the pillow, your heart will probably feel better because you did.