3 Thoughtful Tools for Building Solid Relationships

New ConstructionI have spent a lot of time around home building and renovation throughout my life, including part-ownership of a contracting company in my late twenties. I learned a considerable amount about human behavior while managing construction projects. Concepts that can be applied to building solid relationships, and that also pertain to the importance of our surroundings.

It turns out that our environment is just as important as our genetic inheritance. Our lives and health can literally change as a result of our atmosphere for good, or for bad, and this is especially important during the critical growth periods of children.  The environment includes both our physical locations and interpersonal interactions. Our relationships are cornerstone to a healthy lifestyle, yet, it is striking how easily we can get sidetracked and neglect the ones we love.

Similarly, I find it interesting how we will painstakingly take hours on end to research and choose just the right tile, flooring, and furniture for our homes. With this in mind, I would like to invite you to imagine how much fuller our lives can be when we make the same time investment in discovering the specifics of the people we surround ourselves with, once moved in. Just think how comfortable and supportive our lives could be if we admired and maintained the details of our relationships as regularly as we do the esthetics of our homes. Don’t get me wrong, I love design and the creative process that goes with making a house a home but when our focus is on the furniture and not what sits on it, we miss the mark.

I have witnessed many relationship “building” ups and downs through the years and here are a few thoughtful tools that I accumulated along the way.

Thought Tool #1 

When Our Walls Are Down, Real Communication Can Take Place

Joseph F. Newton said, “People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” Unfortunately, no matter who we are, there are areas of our lives that we set walls around. The things about ourselves that we don’t want exposed, usually due to some irrational perception. On a new home before the drywall goes up, the wiring, heating, and plumbing are run in the framed walls. It takes a concerted effort of all of the trades with careful reading of the plan and open communication to get the job done. As this is taking place you can see exactly where the wiring of a switch goes and how everything is connected. Wouldn’t it be great to see what lies beneath our barriers? When our walls to communication are down, we can begin to understand how we get into heated situations with others, and why, when those buttons get pushed, our wires get crossed.

Thought Tool #2

Security is a State of Mind

We can get attached to our possessions; the things we believe provide us with security. A home remodel usually shatters this impression. The home represents the most material security one generally acquires, and when it’s being messed with and shaken up, all of our underlying issues can unexpectedly turn up. This is why I believe many relationships don’t make it past the renovation process.  Remodeling is one of the most stressful situations a couple can go through. So much so, that I have seen a couple marry and divorce before their house was finished. Some of the best advise we received when starting our business was from a successful industry professional who said, “Don’t get attached to anything except your family.” Material possessions come and go, but our real security is a result of the investments we make in ourselves and our relationships.

Thought Tool #3   

Sweeping Things Under the Carpet Doesn’t Work for the Long Term

We can sweep things under the carpet temporarily, but when the rug is pulled out from under us, there is usually a lot to clean up! Let’s face it, our lives are busy. If we can avoid any extra work when we get home from a long day at the job, why not sweep the mess under the rug? We often do this when conflicts turn up with our partners, our kids, as as a matter of fact, we even do this with the things we need to address within ourselves. There really is nothing like a remodel to shake up our relationships, and when the old rug gets pulled up to be replaced with new flooring, the ugly truth gets exposed. You would be surprised what one finds! On the positive side, once the truth is out in the open for everyone to see; it can then be cleaned up, and little by little, it can be dealt with. In the end, when all is said and done, you just might feel like you  have something new – or at the very least, an improved model.

Some Additional Rambling Thoughts for Building and Remodeling Relationships:

The building process gets messy, it can be exhausting, it is time consuming, it can be overwhelming at times, it takes effort, it can be costly in time and money, things generally don’t happen as quickly as you would like them to, schedules need to be adjusted, you often have to make changes to the plan, people don’t agree so clear communication is necessary to resolve the issues, sometimes you have to wait for the ground to thaw out before you can excavate, you can get stuck in the mud, things don’t always turn out as planned, and you learn who you can count on.

Yet, though it all, it is one of the most rewarding processes you can experience!

Young Family

A Final Punch List (Trade term for “to do” list) :
Let your walls down, pull up the rug,  check faulty switches, ventilate heat, and don’t be afraid to renovate.  Take care of the most valuable assets in your home, your relationships; because investing in your environment can transform your lives!

© 2013 Cathi Curen, Holistic Children Radio


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