“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”
Jane Howard, writer.
Relationships Australia CEO says dedicating time to family and friends is important.
We are social animals who need social connection. When we surround ourselves with family and friends who love and care about us, our wellbeing is nurtured.
Even if you have your dream job, a big salary and a nice car, living without at least one long lasting, reliable relationship is life with a little less enjoyment.
Experiencing good company, the euphoric feeling of bursting with laughter, and a sense of community is fulfilment you create by putting time and effort in your relationships.
But more often than reasonable, we find ourselves wrapped up in our busy work schedules, our phones, making money or pursuing our ambitions, that we forget the simple but extremely necessary act of keeping in touch.
CEO of Relationships Australia, Elisabeth Shaw, says, “The ongoing checking in, in a sort of easier day to day way, can often be really helpful to future proof your relationships.
It’s really important just to be able to invest in the relationship to keep it resilient and strong, but also to tune in to anything that is just needing a bit of adjustment.”
Elisabeth says that if months accumulate, “there’s just so much to repair.” Problems that may have been small or non-existent begin to build up as a result of minor miscommunication and not keeping in touch with one another. “And if you add to that, ‘I’m not hearing from you – maybe you don’t care about me’, you’ve got two problems. All of these things you can get on top of, if you check in regularly.”
How can we get on top of these things?
Elisabeth suggests creating rituals – whether this is going to your favourite café or restaurant every Sunday or having a weekly BBQ. She says that even if there is not much to say or you don’t feel the need to gather, these rituals ensure the upkeep of your bond which you can capitalise on when in need.
“For some families, even gathering together is quite a big deal. Because everyone’s got their own interests, and the fact that they all made it to a table is quite successful,” she said.
In dedicating time to your family and friends, it is important to recognise everyone has different needs, schedules and interests. When organising a time to catch-up, prevent yourself from being frustrated that someone can’t turn up. Instead, aim to create the rituals as something everyone wants to go to, not feel obliged to.
“But sometimes even a ritual can get a bit stale, so try and introduce different elements into it. Just say you do Sunday night dinner, do it at different houses. Or maybe do it every month, or have it follow a particular theme, or chose a different cuisine, everybody can bring a plate. So, when you get together, there’s something new to discuss.”
Not only does keeping in touch with family and friends by scheduling and dedicating time to them benefit you and the other person, it also opens the gate to a more comfortable relationship where you can talk openly and honestly.
With a strong bond and familiar face, people are emboldened to talk about personal issues or issues between others as opposed to pushing them aside.
Elisabeth Shaw told Sydney Observer, “keep it simple, straightforward, appealing, no judgement about whether you can always make it – and don’t put it off!”
Making sure you set a time to see your family and friends where you engage with them and have fun is personal entertainment you should never sacrifice. This is because having a laugh and good company is what we live for.
“Putting work into your relationships can be actually quite simple and efficient”. Elisabeth says it can be a quick 5-minute call, a text once a week, being more diligent on Facebook and preferably having quick catchups in person. In our semi-post COVID world, now more than ever we need to dedicate time and nurture our relationships.
“Seize the moment and start something happening. Start small and doable. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture,” she said.