I've always balked at the notion that "absence makes the heart grow fonder." I won't deny that it's a very romantic thought - as we are apart from our loved ones, we draw even closer still.
In my experience, however, the opposite is actually true. Here's why:
Relationships are built on memories. Remember the time we spontaneously splashed in the rain puddles, ate peanut butter and jellies in the back of that blue pick-up truck, hatched a plan to surprise a friend with an awesome day out, and watched that ridiculous musical and belted out the tunes afterward? No? Well, THAT is the stuff of relationships. Without common experiences, we quickly lose sight of each other.
Relationships are built on touch. Online interactions and telephone calls can accentuate existing relationships, bringing people together as we hear each other's voices, opinions, and stories. But people too often underestimate the power of touch in our lives. Hugs, squeezes, kisses, passing brushes...all ignite the soul and unite us.
Relationships are built on time. Research has shown time and again that we grow in similarity to the people we spend the most time with. We pick up on hobbies, gestures, words, and ways of living. If we are around people who are overweight, there's a good chance we will be overweight. If we spend time with colleagues who curse, we are more likely to curse. If we are around people who appreciate music, we will begin to do the same. This creates intimacy - whether or not we actively choose it.
As our family treks across the country in a very small space, we are often astounded by the simple truth that - the more we spend time together, the more we WANT to spend time together. We know each other in a safe and content way. Living side-by-side is like breathing. In-out. In-out. [This is not to say that we don't have moments when we need SPACE, but...it's usually nothing that a 20-minute walk/run can't cure].
Have you ever noticed that it's harder to connect with your spouse after he/she has been away on a business trip or has been deployed? Or perhaps your child comes home from camp or a long day at school or an extended time away? At first, you are delirious with joy and expectation...but then you end up fighting or "needing space" again by the end of the day.
If you feel yourself growing distant from your spouse, your children, or a good friend, may I posit that a solution may be to spend MORE time together? Not less. Time is a great healer of relationships.
Do you agree?