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In our relationships, we tend to focus on the big events – weddings, birthdays, graduations, etc. Of course, those events are important. They are opportunities to celebrate the people that we care about.

But if we truly want to improve our relationships, we need to focus on the small stuff. Our relationships are built upon the simple, positive, everyday experiences that we share with other people.

Having regular, positive interactions with another person smooths out the bumps in your relationship road. For instance, on days when my husband and I communicate regularly during the day, and then have dinner together, our relationship runs smoothly.  However, on days when our schedules are busy, and we don’t spend enough time together, our relationship gets bumpy.  Then silly matters, like whether the garbage was taken to the curb, become major frustrations.

The same holds true with our children. The more positive experiences that we have with our children, the better those relationships are.  This is especially important with teenagers.  The teen years are fragile, and during this time kids desperately need positive relationships with their parents.

To try to create those positive experiences with my 15-year-old daughter, I regularly take her to Starbucks. The point isn’t for us to get fancy, caffeinated drinks.  I take her there because it is an inexpensive way for us to get out of the house and have a chat.  The more we communicate, the more secure she feels and the better our relationship is.

Without those Starbucks trips, we wouldn’t have that same opportunity to talk. At home, I am distracted by work and housework, and she is distracted by homework.  By leaving the house and getting away from our responsibilities, we have an opportunity to just chat and have a good time together.

In all our relationships, we need to create regular opportunities to have good experiences with the other person. For instance, couples schedule “date nights” so that they can have time on their own to talk and enjoy each other’s company.  Friends meet for coffee or lunch for the same purpose.

Those seemingly small moments have a big impact on our relationships. The more positive experiences we have with another person, the more warmly we feel toward that person.  Then the odd insensitive comment or mistake in judgment doesn’t bother us that much.  Without the foundation of positive experiences, every minor irritation can evolve into a major argument.

If you have a relationship that is struggling, take time out from discussing your issues. Instead, make time to create positive experiences with that person.  For example, if you both love books, take a trip to the bookstore together and then grab a cup of coffee and a dessert afterward.  Or if you both enjoy the movies, go to the theater together and then go out for a bite to discuss the film.  Do things that are enjoyable with the other person to build up that foundation of positive experiences.

Relationships are built on the little moments. They are built on the activities that we do together, the small acts of kindness that we do for another person, and the encouraging words that we offer.  Make sure that you are laying a firm foundation of positive moments in your relationships.  Focus on the small stuff and see your relationships improve dramatically.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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