We can improve our relationships by listening better, creating clear boundaries, and banning cell phones at the dinner table. However, I've found three subtler—and often more difficult, but more rewarding—methods for developing and strengthening my relationships with the people I hold most dear.
We get to know our parents, kids, and partners pretty well, but still, we can't always know what makes them tick.
Offer the Benefit of the Doubt
See above. When you see that the dishes weren't done (again), instead of thinking that the supposed-dish-doer is being lazy or obstinate, ask yourself what might have come up that prevented that person from doing the chore. Maybe she was just being lazy, but when you ask her about it later you'll do so from a place of concern and curiosity rather than anger, and you'll spend the day in peace rather than with a building frustration.
You can't be angry and loving at the same time. Try it. It just doesn't work. I found that out one day when I was furious at my significant other for not doing something he said he would do, which then fell on me...until I thought, “I really love that man.” My anger dissipated instantly, and I did the task without any resentment. It was also a good reminder for me about how much control we actually have over our responses to circumstances.
How do you work to strengthen your relationships every day?