Do You Truly Value Your Closest Relationships?

by Jonathan

with my wife

I believe that the quality of your life is closely tied to the quality of your closest relationships. Do you feel like that is true?

Most of us probably know a fair amount of people on a variety of levels. Some are casual acquaintances that we know just because our paths cross on a regular basis. While we can’t choose all of the people we encounter during the course of a normal day, there are certain people we choose to have in our lives. We call these people our friends.

Friendships also happens on a different levels

Let me ask you something:

1) How many real friendships do you have?
2) How many of those are really close friends?
3) Do you have a best friend?

There is an obvious point to those three questions. Do you see it?

The point is that friendships come in degrees. They’re all important, but some are more important. A precious few are extremely important. I know it sounds obvious but many people fail to think this through logically. If there are only a precious few relationships that are “extremely” important in our life, what does that mean?

We need to prioritize those special relationships

Our actions and words need to send an unmistakable message to those people that they really do matter to us. One of the most common problems I see in relationships is that people just assume that their friend, mate, partner, or children somehow “know” how valued they are. They don’t just know!

A meaningful relationship does not happen by accident, it needs to be built and maintained. A close relationship also deserves our time and energy. If we take a relationship for granted, sooner or later it will fall apart. Where do you think the saying “I didn’t know what I had until I lost it” came from?

Take a look at your closest relationships

Make sure that the way you treat those special people accurately expresses your true feelings. Make sure that your expressions are in harmony with your heart and that you are not sending mixed signals.

The most meaningful person in my life is my wife. We have been together through thick and thin for the last 27 years. She never has to wonder how I feel. She never needs to question my commitment to our marriage. She knows because I make certain that she knows. It’s one of my highest priorities in life.

In relationships choose quality over quantity

Sometimes it seems easier to put a man on the moon than to put a man and a woman under the same roof for any length of time. Why do you think that is? I’m sure the reasons vary, but no one ever made it to the moon without a giant commitment.

If you want to enjoy the benefits of a truly close and meaningful relationship, you must be willing to make a total commitment. I know that’s a scary thought for many, but you simply can’t have one without the other. In reality, a commitment is liberating. It says, I’m here no matter what. There is no exit strategy!

Why did I write this?

Two reasons really. One, as I mentioned at the beginning, is because the quality of our lives is closely tied to the quality of our relationships. There are plenty of struggling relationships out there and lack of commitment is usually a contributing factor. So, it needed to be said.

The second reason is more personal. I’ve been working pretty hard lately and I wanted my wife to be reassured that my priorities are still in place. Actually, I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops for all to hear because this relationship is one of my very highest priorities in life and I feel extremely good about that.

What do you think it takes for a great relationship?
How do you feel about the prospect of a total commitment?
The lines are open!

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{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise Altman

Hi Jonathan,
Glad you wrote this. Although a “fan” of social media and networking, I sometimes am concerned that the concept of “friendship” is losing some of its meaning.
Although I love the expansion (and globalization) of the “communities” we now populate, the reality is that deep emotional resonanance with a few “special” people is rare. Most recent polls show that people are having a greater difficulty identifying close relationships in their lives. There are so many factors that contribute to this, but it doesn’t change the fact that as humans, we not only still want them, we NEED them. Our emotional growth happens in relationship to others.
Nuff said. Good post!
Thanks,
Louise

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Louise, you make an excellent point. It almost seems that such a shift was predictable given the direction of things these days. Like you, I also value the ability to reach out to so many through social media channels, but not as substitute for real world relationships. Such a shift is almost frighting to contemplate. I think the desire to avoid commitment may be a contributing factor in this trend.

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Emily

I have social anxiety disorder and rarely leave the house. The Internet is my connection to the world. However, this may sound cold, but I recently prioritized my relationships on my Facebook page using filters. I noticed that I was seeing a lot of junk from games and missing out on the updates from the people I actually cared about. So far, it’s made my online experience much better as I’m better able to maintain a constant communication with those I consider to be real friends.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Emily, I don’t think prioritizing relationships is cold at all. In fact I think it’s vital. That holds true online or off because there is only so much of you to go around. I don’t have social anxiety disorder (I don’t think), but I am a natural born hermit and enjoy staying home for days on end. I think some people just need more solitude than others. Besides, who is anyone else to call that a disorder? We would probably both agree that crowds are highly over rated.

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Debbie @ Happy Maker

Very good article. Relationships are the most important thing to take care off. One thing that me and my hubby always remember to do every day is tell each other that we love you and always share a kiss or two. Hugs are in there also.
One of the really big things that I have found that work for building a good relationship is learning who the person is and excepting them as they are. Never trying to change them into what you want them to be.

Thanks Jonathan for a great article.
Debbie

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

So right Debbie. Thinking that they will be just right after we modify them is a sure ticket to relationship death. On the positive side, even though my wife loves me for who I am, being with her makes me want to be a better person. Her love motivates me to strive to become more than I would without that love.

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Debbie @ Happy Maker

Yes, Jonathan I know what you mean. I am that same way with my hubby. He just makes me want to be better and better.

What is really cool is he is always trying to improve himself because of me, but at the same time we except each other for who we are.
Guess that is freedom of choice, but I’ll love you anyway. lol
Debbie

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Farnoosh

Jonathan, you are a sweet heart. I think your wife knows, even if you feel very strongly about always showing it and telling her – which in itself is wonderful and very important – but she knows. Just as my husband knows how I feel about him. But there is so much joy in showing the emotion that I haven’t tested going without it for a long time and then seeing his reaction. He may just fall apart! I am going to call him this instant ;)!!
Great post and YES I do think the quality of my life is directly linked to the quality of my relationships. As always, a winner article :)!

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Farnoosh, I love to here the expressions of appreciation when a post like this gets people talking about their own relationships. Happy relationships are a treasure!

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rob white

Hi Jonathan,
This article is especially pertinent in the age of twitter, facebook et al. It seems there are many people who substitute these fleeting interactions for deep relationships. When we take inventory we can see who the tried and true relationships that will stand the test of time.

For me it is my wife, the woman of my dreams who has encouraged my magnificent obsession to write. My dear friend Nicholas who brings art to my words and serves as a listening for new ideas. And then there is Shakespeare, my parrot of 26 years. Thanks for this reminder.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

You know Rob, it’s really interesting how the comparison between virtual and real world relationships is coming up in the comments. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it much (until now anyway).

So, does Shakespeare talk in verse?

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rob white

Ha ha. Not in verse. His favorite thing to say is, “I can talk, can you fly?”

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Steve-Personal Success Factors

I think this article challenged me most deeply to think about what kind of friend and husband and father and co-worker, etc. I am being to those who are closest to me in my life. Great to see your commitment to your wife, Jonathan :)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Steve, it is really healthy to examine ourselves in those areas. Helps us to actually be the people we intend to be. I have a little motto that serves me well: “A happy wife is a happy life.” Of course, it only works because she is a loving, giving, and reasonable partner.

Thanks you my friend.

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Lance

Hi Jonathan,
Wonderful article! Wonderful…and…deeply “on the mark”. Sometimes I wonder if I slip from that “mark”… My wife is the one I can always trust, always go to, the one who is there no matter what. Am I giving that, too?? I hope that I am…(although I know, too, that there are moments where I slip up).

Anyway, know that I find much meaning in all that you’ve shared here. And what you and your wife have created – that’s a real testament to who you are and the value and care with which you nurture that relationship…

It’s good to be here…

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Greetings Lance, trust me, we all slip from that mark. But those amazing women are willing to cut us some slack because they know we are really trying. I’ve seen pictures of your family and my first impression was: “I bet lance is a really great husband and father.” Besides, we all know that you have extremely high entertainment value!

Thanks for being here my friend, it means a lot.

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Dia

Thanks Jonathan, very nice post. One of the best things we can do to build close relationships is express our feelings to the ones we love and make sure that they are very important in our lives. Thanks for sharing Jonathan

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Dia, that is so true. Assuming that someone knows how you feel is like inviting problems. We all like to be reminded that we are valued by those who we value.

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Marko

Totally agree…

I work for a lot, and sometimes I am rude to people from the environment…. In particular to close friends and my girlfriend…

For the sake of personal satisfaction and fulfillment it is necessary to devote time to our relationships, especially with friends and family, that is, the people we love…. Sometimes, we really should tell those people: “Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for your patience and kindness.”

Best wishes Jonathan…

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Marko, it’s an ironic twist on friendship, but when we are comfortable around others there can be a tendency to act in ways we wouldn’t act around strangers. When we are frustrated or running low on resources they my be the recipients of undeserved behavior. In reality though, what they really deserve it our appreciation.

Your two expressions of appreciation: “Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for your patience and kindness.” are perfect and should be a regular part of our communication with those who are closest to us.

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Nea

What a wonderful and touching post, Jonathan. Your wife is one lucky lady.

I really enjoyed the questions you asked & the fact that they point to the degrees of closeness in relationships. I appreciate and value all of the relationships in my life, but I have very few truly close friends. Those are the ones who know all about me and (somehow) manage to love me anyway. Although I think I do a decent job of making sure they’re aware of how dear they are to me, I’m off to make some smile-producing phone calls right now.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Nea, I get the impression that you are really good at expressing your appreciation and feel certain that the important people in your life are aware of your feelings. Even so, way to take action!

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Simon Hay

Hi Jonathan, surprisingly, relationships have been difficult for me. I agree with everything you’ve said, and I’d like to think I live my life being observant and attentive, but relationships fall away from me like autumn leaves. The good news is I’m now living my life one day at a time and it seems to be working. I’m happy for you and your wife and grateful for your example. Talk soon, Simon.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Simon, there is something to consider if we find ourselves trying to be a good friend , but still not experiencing the level of relationships we would like. The thing about relationships is that they involve two people. That means that both parties need to be willing to contribute to the growth and strengthening of the relationship.

If one person is more self-oriented (selfish) and the the other is more giving it creates an imbalance. So, it takes two people to build a meaningful relationship, but only one to tear it down. No matter how hard a giving person tries, they cannot make up for the other person.

Sometimes due to subconscious emotional anchors, limiting beliefs about what we deserve, or programed response patterns we are attracted to people who are incapable of a two-way relationship. I’m not saying that is true in your situation, just that it takes two to tango!

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Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

I loved reading this article (thanks to Jay Schryer for Tweeting it), and loved all the responses, but Simon’s resonated strongly with me. For whatever reason, I, too, have chosen to go this far in life (35 earth years) without a lasting intimate relationship. I know I have subconscious beliefs that I’m still working through tied to (at the very least) my father leaving when I was 10 and never seeking me out again. I wonder if I have past life issues, too, and what else could be the culprit? The funny thing about subconscious beliefs is that they’re trickier to access and change around than those beliefs we’re aware we have. I’ve been working that angle slowly and consistently since my 20′s. My latest tool will be to use EFT to release whatever residual father issues I have left, so that (hopefully) my next relationship will be the one I enjoy from now until the day I leave this walkabout.

In any case, Jonathan, I appreciated your response to Simon, and appreciated knowing that someone I admire (Simon) is in a similar boat. Somehow it feels like good, reassuring company to have!

Blessings of love, peace and joy to you both,
Megan

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Megan, it’s so nice to welcome you to Advanced Life Skills. Even though I’ve been with my wife for 27 years, we didn’t find each other until we were 32 years old. I remember wondering if I would ever find that one special person, but I did and chances are you will also.

The important thing to remember about relationships it that it’s not always about us. Maybe you are taking responsibility for something that isn’t about you. Could it be that nobody truly worthy has come along yet? Isn’t it possible that it’s been their issues getting in the way and not yours?

All we can do is strive to be the best possible version of ourselves and hope that someone comes along who can truly appreciate that. Sure, we can and should work to resolve our personal issues, but we should also be willing to give ourselves plenty of unconditional approval.

Megan (that’s also my daughter’s name), at the risk of sounding like a pitch, you might want to get a copy of my book (7 Simple Steps). The entire first section is about dismantling limiting beliefs and replacing them with empowering ones. I think you would find the strategies very helpful

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Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice

Wonderfully put Jonathan. It’s funny how we often our thinking can synchronise. I was thinking about this very same concept recently and started paying more attention to my nearest and dearest and letting go attachment to people where the motives for keeping them around was not entirely altruistic. Thank you for the powerful reminder.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Amit, seems like we do that fairly regularly. So, I’m curious. Since making these changes how has it changed the quality of your relationships?

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Tess The Bold Life

All that you write is so true. Of course hubs is no.1 in my life. It will be 39 years in January. Getting married at 17 and pregnant was the best decision of my life. LOL I just didn’t know it back then;)
The next closest would be my mom and daughters. I have a few close friends and have met 5 of my blogging buddies that are now good friends.

I can’t imagine life without these people nor do I ever want to. I’ve written twice about enjoying life and my stats falling…oh well so what. There’s no sense going for “more” and ignoring what I have. I sent my ego on vacation so I could be at peace with it;)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Tess, there is a special blessing in your comment. I noticed that your very closest relationships are with family members. Do you know how rare that is these days? I especially appreciate your situation because it is also true in my life. My wife and I are best friends, next would be our daughter and her husband. We don’t have much extended family anymore, but being really close with our daughter is very special. They are the ones we most like to go places with and get together with. It’s is a true blessing.

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DaveUrsillo

Jonathan,

Reflecting upon friendship is very important, and I like the way you illustrate the various degrees of friendship.

Of late, I’ve taken a real liking to making subtle efforts to forge meaningful connections with men and women would probably be best described as “acquaintances,” or those that I’ve not very long, and may not know for a very long time.

I find some beauty in establishing these sorts of connections with people, realizing that our paths may not cross again, but intending the connection we made to last a lifetime.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hey Dave, that is really the best way to view acquaintances: “realizing that our paths may not cross again, but intending the connection we made to last a lifetime.” We never really know what potential there is for a meaningful connection. If we approach them all as having great potential it takes every connection to a deeper level, even the momentary ones. It also shows respect and compassion for people in general.

What an excellent attitude you have toward relationships that might just slip by otherwise.

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Stephen - Rat Race Trap

Hi Jonathan. Wonderful article and your fantastic attitude about your life and your loved ones really comes through. Thanks as always for the wisdom you share.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Stephen, (big pause). Okay, I’m back. Had to go read your article and I am so glad I did. Wow, what a thought provoker. Thanks for stopping by my friend.

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Sibyl Chavis

Jonathan: What a great post and such a great point. There is nothing like having sincere and great friendships and we should do everything we can to foster those relationships so they flourish. I really appreciated what you said about having a complete relationship and the need to make a total commitment. It really is so true and a helpful insight. Thanks for sharing it and thanks for this post. I am sure your wife appreciated it as well :)

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Sibyl, I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Commitment doesn’t always seem to be a very popular concept, but it leads to the things that everybody longs for. Thanks for all your kind support Sibyl, I really do appreciate it.

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Sandra Lee

Jonathan, I am so touched by how you are expressing your love for you wife in this article. This is such an important reminder in this day and age of high speed social networking. I can happily say that I actively appreciate my husband more now than ever in our lives and intend to increase that appreciation each day that goes by and also extend it to others close to me.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Hi Sandra, I am sure your husband would appreciate knowing that you put that in writing for all to see. My wife usually proofs my articles. So when I handed her this one she had no idea what it was about. She cried and got all happy. It really touched me that it touched her. Those are the moments that stay with you.

So nice to have you here Sandra. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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Robin Easton

Dear Jonathan, I read this post several days ago, and have thought about it since. The message in it is timeless and as old as humans. It is a message that reminds us to REALLY open our eyes and hearts to those we DO love, those we KNOW we love, but often don’t really consciously interact with them from a place of KNOWING we wouldn’t want to live without them.

All too often we cruise along unconscious or in some la-la-fantasy and don’t really see what we have. And it is in that fully “seeing” of other (and I ‘spose self) that allows us to change our lives and relationships.

I can honestly say that there is not one single day that I don’t think what my life would be like if I lost my husband. I don’t walk around in fear; that’s not what I mean. However, I do not take him or his miraculous existence in my life for granted, not even for a day. Nor does he do that with me. He is my dearest most precious. closest friend. He really is a miracle. I LOVE being this aware of his presence in my life, as well as FULLY knowing what a gift it is.

What you have done for your wife here is precious and reflects how precious she is as a human being and woman, which shows in her face. She is a beautiful radiant soul. AND it also shows how precious you are for doing it.

The photo here moved me deeply. Do you know why? Beyond the fact that you both make a STUNNING couple, there is something deeper. When I looked at it, I was very aware of both your eyes. There is deep love, peace, and astounding compassion in both your faces, a softness and openness to life. I see two people who really lived, and are STILL really living, two people who have embraced much with their hearts open. There is much love and peace in both your faces. Kindness.

My love to you both and thank you both for touching my heart. It’s good to know there are two such beautiful souls in the world. Love is still alive and consciously valued. :) Robin

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Wow Robin, now that’s a comment plus! What you said about “wouldn’t want to live without them” really resonated with me. That was actually my criteria for “the right person.” I had to feel like I absolutely could not stand to live without them. I know, that’s a pretty tall order, but you just can’t argue with the results.

It is really encouraging to hear you talk about your husband in the same way. It’s about as rare as living for years in the wild. Hey, maybe we’re on to something here!

I am deeply touched and flattered by all the things you see in our faces. It certainly didn’t hurt that we were vacationing on Kauai when the picture was taken. Actually, we were having drinks, waiting for our dinner only 20 feet from the water, watching the sunset. So I must admit, the camera caught us in a special moment. Of course, being there together was what made it so special.

Thank you so much Robin for sharing with us. We sure have a lot of blessings to count.

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Miranda Cruz

I really enjoy reading your writings Jonathan.

Thank you.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills

Thank you Miranda, I really appreciate the kind support you offer.

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John Rocheleau

LIFE IS RELATIONSHIP. It all boils down to that.

Our life’s relationships and our relationship with life is everything. Our life is completely dependent upon our relationship to everything within and around us. And since we live in a society of other people, our people relationships are the most significant — and they are the most telling if we are looking for some personal insight.

By examining our relationships, we can learn valuable facts about our self and about our life. This is especially true if we look at the changes in our relationship patterns over a long time period.

For instance: your spouse may be your primary relationship, but that most important relationship — as good as it might seem — could be stopping you from forming and maintaining other close relationships. It is easy to let them slide if you are not paying attention to them.

More than easy; it is almost natural to let friendships go when you make that commitment to your spouse. Even your receptivity toward new friendships can erode when you engage a life partner. It’s something to think about for a lot of folks.

We can become a relationship hermit in a few short inattentive years, and so it is vital to nourish our close relationships — and it is especially vital to ensure that we have a balance of relationships through which we engage life.

Just another take on your thoughts :-)

John

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Nancy Shields

So very true and you are a wonderful husband to write this article to express your commitment to your wife…..blessed are you both!

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