Relationships really are what make the world go ’round. Good, positive, healthy, meaningful relationships provide us with the richest experiences we have. Your loving spouse who shares everything with you, that best friend who connects with you like few others do, the people at work who appreciate you and help you become the best you can be. This is what brings joy to life!
But relationships can also be the bane of our existence. What really brings more pain in this life than a broken relationship, especially when it isn’t just broken, but downright ugly?
So it behooves us to do all that we can to keep our relationships zipping right along. If we put our very best into our relationships, we can almost guarantee getting the very best out of them, too.
There are three things that, when done over time, begin to create the kinds of relationships that you truly desire, the kinds of relationships you have always dreamed of. The key to remembering these three items is the acronym Z.I.P. It stands for three things you can do to improve any and all of your relationships:
1. Put some ZEST into your relationships.
Relationships were meant to be fun. Think about it: Don’t you usually start out most healthy relationships with a lot of good times? Whether it’s going out to dinner or a ballgame, fun is a major part of your relationship—it’s some of the glue that bonds you together.
But as life goes on, the fun starts to go by the wayside. More and more it is about getting the job done, whatever the job may be.
To restore the relationship, to put a little zip into it, reintroduce the idea of “zest.”
What can you do to get the zest back if you’ve lost it? Think of a specific relationship you have. What were the fun things you did at the beginning of it? Commit to doing those things now and see if your relationship doesn’t begin to soar again. Try new fun things to do together, too. Start an adventure of fun together.
2. Cultivate more INTIMACY in your relationships.
Not just intimacy in the common understanding, but for all intents and purposes—for taking your relationship to a deeper level.
That doesn’t mean you have to start doing group hugs with your workmates or having revelation sessions where the tissue flows freely. Every relationship that is mutually satisfying has a level of depth to it that provides meaning. This is really what the search is for in our relationships—meaning.
At the beginning of a relationship, time is spent opening up, telling who you are, where you’re from, what your likes and dislikes are. There is a deep sense of satisfaction with the relationship—that’s why it continues. You like who they are and you enjoy being known by them.
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But then something happens. We get to a certain level and the pursuit of depth ends. We stop sharing feelings. We stop sharing joys and dreams and fears. Instead, we settle into routine. The daily grind takes over and we stop knowing one another—we simply exist together.
Now, every time you get together doesn’t have to be deep—just having plain old fun sometimes is good, too. But there is a need for regular times of intimate connection, because meaningful relationships come when we are loved and accepted for who we are at our core.
Think about the relationships you would like to see improvement in. Take some time in the coming weeks and months to spend time really talking and getting to a deeper level. Let the other person deeper into your world. You can’t force them to be more intimate and you certainly can’t say, “Let’s get together and have an intimate conversation,” because that would be too contrived. But you can make a decision for yourself that you will let others into your world. Perhaps this will be the catalyst for them doing the same.
You can guard yourself from intimacy, but then you won’t go much deeper and you will feel a longing in your heart for more. Or you can begin the deepening process and see your relationships change for the better.
3. Develop a PURPOSE in your relationships.
The most meaningful relationships are those that are held together by a common purpose and vision for what it can accomplish.
When people have a common purpose, they feel like they are part of a team—they feel bound together. So even when you might be disappointed in the person you are in relationship with, if there is a purpose there, such as raising the children, you are much more likely to stick it out. Purpose creates bonds, and when you are seeking it out, the relationship gets better and stronger.
Think about your strongest relationships. Aren’t they centered on at least one area of purpose or a common goal? What about your weaker relationships? Think back and see if you used to have a common purpose but it has since gone by the wayside.
What about the relationships that you want to grow? Take some time to begin to cultivate a common purpose. Sit down with that person and tell them that you would like to have some common goals that you pursue together. As you develop these, you will see your relationship strengthen in ways you never imagined.