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Blissful Reflection: 5 Relationship Mantras

{Blissful Reflection is a series of short essays that highlight a story and photo that made my week meaningful.}

My step-dad, Mahlon, stared at the bright pink flower on the table as he told me a story about his 45-year friendship, with Swed.

Mahlon met Swed and his wife Lilly when he was working at Standard Oil (now Chevron), in his early twenties. Together, they worked on cars, washed windows, and learned all about managing a gas station.

Swed ended up leaving the company because he wanted to pursue his dream of opening a plumbing and sheeting business. For a while Swed had a business partner, but his partner cooked the books and ran off with a lot of the company’s money.

To keep the small the company from going under, Swed asked Mahlon for a small business loan. The small loan saved Swed’s business and enabled him to pursue his dream. Mahlon told told me, “I loaned Swed money because he’s my friend and I knew that he would pay me back. More importantly, I can call him if I need anything. I can count on him. 45 years later, we’re still friends.”

When it comes to cultivating strong friendships, Mahlon taught me five simple lessons. I think of these lessons as my relationship mantras. They include:

1. Talk less, listen more.
2. Be honest.
3. Be generous.
4. Always practice kindness.
5. When friends need help, take action.

Now it’s your turn. How do you sustain long-lasting friendships and what are your relationship mantras?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Keasha September 10, 2011, 7:37 am

    I agree with the mantras above. I would add the following:

    1. Learn when to take a step back (there are times that need it).
    2. Practice acceptance; try not to judge
    3. Give love, love, love

    • Mark September 10, 2011, 1:01 pm

      I would elevate Keasha’s number 2 to the top of the list. Through personal experience, to share with a someone without fear of being judged is an amazing experience. And to be able to offer such a gift to someone else is even more amazing. I think they call this unconditional love…

      • Karen September 11, 2011, 8:15 am

        I agree to the Top of the List…..Practice acceptance; try not to judge.

        Never means that we agree. But we can look past the issue and accept them for who they are, not what they do/believe.

    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 2:12 pm

      @Keasha – Love your tips. Especially the part about being non-judgmental. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  • Joy September 10, 2011, 9:09 am

    Thank you for a beauty filled reflection!

    I would add:

    1. Nurture peace.
    2. Share experiences and exploration.
    3. Allow for complete transparency.
    4. Open my heart to unconditional love.

  • Meghan September 10, 2011, 9:51 am

    I agree with Keasha’s #2. My most long term friend has made some personal decisions I don’t really agree with, but they are her decisions and they are not immoral decisions. I have to respect her individuality and accept her good and her not so good. The net result is a beautiful caring person.

  • trina September 10, 2011, 10:33 am

    Those are all amazingly necessary things. great list!

    A huge thing for me is to let relationships grow and change as they want/need to. Relationships and life situations will ebb and flow like a living thing and it’s good to try and be quiet and observant of them and not try to force them to always stay the same. Build a strong mutual communicative connection in whatever way your personalities connect best and be mutually trustful and secure in that connection no matter how the physical proximity or time spent in contact changes from time to time. Let it just be and yet also actively engage with and enjoy it, however it looks.

    Another thing i have learned is that so many conflicts and tension can be dissipated by breathing and contemplating before reacting or giving up on the relationship. Ask the other person questions that help you understand them and why they did/thought/acted/said whatever it is that rubbed you the wrong way. Ask yourself critically if you are offended/hurt because the other person actually did something wrong, insensitive or hurtful or if it is simply because they did something in a way you would not, in a way that you don’t understand, or in a way that, if done by you, would mean something totally different than what they actually intended.

    I have found that relationships last when both parties are committed, open, willing to communicate, and most importantly desire to listen and learn about the other person and how they tick. We can do far too much talking and inward thinking, and not enough giving grace, desiring to understand and just simple beautiful listening.

    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 2:15 pm

      @Trina – You’re so wise. Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment!

  • Melita September 10, 2011, 3:06 pm

    What a beautiful list! The only thing I would add is – laugh. Laugh at yourself, laugh with others, and make time for fun and silliness.

  • Ransom September 10, 2011, 8:07 pm

    Tammy – this is off topic, but I couldn’t easily figure out another way to contact you. Although I have facebook and twitter account, I don’t use them. When are you planning to post about your tiny house again? I am most anxious to hear about your progress.

    Thanks for your writing. I enjoy reading your blog.


    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 10:41 am

      @Ransom – I’ve been posting essays about the tiny house every Tuesday. You can read the last post by clicking here.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Steve Marquez September 10, 2011, 9:18 pm

    Super post Tammy.

    For me, ‘be honest’ is the key.

    I would also add the the ‘be generous’ mantra – of your time and attention.

    Finally I think that compassion would have a place in mine.


  • Claire September 11, 2011, 5:13 am

    Great list everyone! This is a more specific thing rather than general but remembering important dates to a friend can be a great way to be a good friend. I actually remember the day I met my best friend and I sent her flowers on the same day 20 years later thanking her for many years of friendship. Acknowledging their important dates beyond birthdays like anniversaries, death of a parent or close friend, the day their little one goes off to kindergarden, divorce, etc.. These moments help both us stop and reflect on where our friendship has been and where we are headed together.

    • Tammy Strobel September 11, 2011, 2:17 pm

      @Claire – I love the story. And you are so right.

      I’m really bad about remembering birthdays. It’s something I’m trying to work on. My postcard project is helping with that issue. It’s always nice to send people thoughtful notes (or flowers). πŸ™‚

  • Mary Jane September 11, 2011, 9:55 am

    I love your list. Especially important to me are confidentiality, non-judgement, and compassion.

  • eema September 14, 2011, 11:27 am

    i want to add : ‘ show up’ to the list. nice post.

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