Blue-ribbon, first-class relationships don’t just happen. They require attention. Here are three words that are always a part of every effective relationship. People often give lip-service to these three words, but living them is a different story. If nothing else, they’re good reminders.


Anyone can say, “I love you.” But saying it isn’t enough. ACTIVE LOVE is the foundation of a rock-solid relationship, showing the other person on a REGULAR BASIS that you love her/him. Love is never, ever taken for granted. You make a CONSISTENT EFFORT to SHOW your love by doing all the little things that DEMONSTRATE how much you love the person. This holds true for all key relationships: marital, friends, parent-child, sibling-sibling, grandparent-grandchild. Effective love is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, loving a person without putting conditions on the relationship, loving the person in spite of her/his mistakes and flaws, making the person feel totally accepted.


The best way to kill a relationship is to neglect it. The only way to develop and maintain a best relationship is to spend TIME on it. You have to water flowers to keep them blooming and you have to nurture a relationship to keep it alive and growing. It means taking the time to DO things TOGETHER. It means taking the time to DO things FOR the other person. It means taking the time to DO things that involve the OTHER PERSON’S INTERESTS, not just your own. You make it a PRIORITY to set aside regular TIME for the other person. This is true for long-distance relationships as well — keeping in touch. Here’s one person’s take on it: The extent to which you have an effective relationship is the extent to which you give time to the other person in the relationship.


There’s effective communication, poor communication, and no communication. By your actions you choose which one you practice. Pick out any seven-day period and examine how effective your communication was with the other person you love. Reflect upon it. Did you talk or did you communicate? There’s a difference. Communication involves being transparent, sharing your thoughts, your feelings, your hopes, your dreams, your wants, your needs, your hurts, your frustrations, your victories. Communication involves being able to disagree without having to be right, without blaming or accusing, without demanding or threatening. It involves compromise without anger or disgust. It involves being able to say, “I’m sorry,” and “I forgive you.”

The words of William W. Perry apply so well to relationships: ‘You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like nobody’s listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.”


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