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One of the most rewarding parts of life is our connections with other people. We are likely children to our parents, neighbors, residents, co-workers, partners or friends, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins or siblings, and on and on. No matter your personal situation, you are related to people, and therefore always impacted by your relationships.

Relationships are not just the categories of ways we are connected to one another – relationships are the source of many things: stability or instability; emotional highs and lows; motivation or support; and comfort or discomfort, to name just a few. In other words, relationships are the underpinnings of our daily lives. The quality of our relationships and our approach to relationships are important to our sense of self and our confidence.

Relationships require constant feeding, our self-awareness, and our generosity of time, thought, and care. Not a one of us is immune from the challenges that our relationships bring, and therefore we must all strive to make them work.


In order to make relationships work, we must first recognize the value of them. A useful exercise is to write down all the relationships you have: your family ones, your work ones, your friends and neighbors, and so on. Take a moment to reflect on each of these. Do some automatically bring a smile to your face? When was the last time you told this person how you feel about them? Appreciating others is important to nurture relationships. Do some leave you indifferent or bring a frown to your face? Whatever your reaction, don't judge yourself, just continue to reflect. Perhaps some of these relationships are troubling, and others fulfilling. If some have trouble spots, identify what those may be. These may be areas for work. Others may bring so much joy that you may realize you want to devote more time to them...and less to the non-fulfilling ones. But this process of reflection on our relationships is the first step to making them work for us.

We make relationships work through:

  • Appreciation

  • Commitment

  • Communication

  • Humility – or, acceptance of our own flaws

  • Patience

  • Thoughtfulness

  • Understanding

These are not always easy things to do. Sometimes to work on one relationship, we need to enlist the aid of another. When we struggle with our teen's behavior or attitude, it can be very helpful to talk with our own parents or a trusted friend. These other relationships can yield support and a new perspective that in turn helps us to improve the relationship that is under stress.

At other times, it is important to seek the help of an objective, experienced professional. An EAP counselor can be ideal for this, providing a confidential sounding board and a source of ideas and strategies for strengthening a valued relationship, or for examining whether a hurtful relationship is causing too much suffering.


Do a relationship inventory. Think about what works, what doesn’t. Explore our links to resources, articles and tips for changes you can make today.

But please note: if ever you feel you are in a relationship where you or someone else is in any immediate danger – call 911.

If you think you could benefit from EAP support to navigate through your relationships and create greater harmony, we are here to help. Click on "Contact Us" in the upper right corner of this page for a phone number to reach us, 24/7.


  • Eat dinner together

  • Cut back on weeknight commitments

  • Go for a walk with the whole family

  • Take the family to a sporting event or a concert

  • Run errands together

  • Plan a summer vacation and plan ways to save money for the trip that all family members can do

  • Get away for the weekend with your spouse

  • Have your kids invite their friends to your house

  • Volunteer to help out with your kids' sporting activities

  • Work on projects or hobbies together

Family remains the number one priority for the majority of adult Americans. Make it yours, too!

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