6 Tips for Maintaining Good Relationships
July 24, 2019 | Fr. John of God Bertín, MC
Relationships, whether with friends or family, can be the source of many good things: first of all, friendship, but also growing, learning, teaching, loving, and being loved. But relationships can be tricky sometimes. Nobody’s perfect, and sometimes our imperfections (and those of others) can cause tension. Here are some tips to keep your relationships healthy and peaceful:
- Accept differences. We’re all different. We have different personalities, different experiences, and different interests. Others don’t necessarily have to like what we do. Extroverts don’t plan parties intending to annoy introverts, but because they enjoy them. Introverts don’t limit their social time because they don’t like people, but because they enjoy time alone, too. We don’t always have to understand another person’s decisions or truly see their perspective to respect them. That respect for people despite differences in perspective is a sign—and also a source—of patience and maturity.
- Be open to change. If you and your friends are deciding how to spend Friday night, or if you and your classmates are struggling to remember everything before an exam, remember that, many times, there are lots of different “right” ways of doing something. If there are multiple solutions, be careful not to get too attached to your own ideas; instead, be open to your friends’ or classmates’ ideas.
- Assume the best in everyone. When there is a conflict or disagreement, or when your friend wants to do something that you think is strange, your instinct should be to downplay the weaknesses and shortcomings of your friends and assume that they had good intentions. How many times have we believed that our friends or relatives act in certain ways just to annoy us? Following this thought, we come to treat others as opponents, instead of treating them as the friends or relatives they actually are. On the contrary, we should not judge intentions. Be always ready to understand, to justify, and to forgive.
- Focus on the good. Always look for something good, especially when someone else’s annoying habit is obvious to you and clamoring for your attention. Does someone talk too much? Listen, expecting to hear them saying something insightful. Does someone always tell you they’re coming to some event or gathering, then not show up? Think about how much they make you laugh when you’re together. This is an exercise, and it takes practice. Every day, try to discover something good about others.
- Maintain an eternal perspective. When you’re especially frustrated, step back and look at the disagreement or conflict. What is most important here? Being right? Getting your way? Or growing in holiness and helping your friend do the same? Look at everything in the light of eternity. Even if you are “right,” how important is it, in the light of eternity, to insist on it?
- Maintaining peace in relationships can be a challenge, so bring the struggles to prayer. Remember that God loves these people—even the annoying people—more than you know. Ask Him to help you love them as He does.
Friendship is a gift from God. Maintaining peace in our relationships is one way we can show God our gratitude for the people He has put in our lives.