Prioritizing Relationships

Prioritizing relationships…what does this mean?

It means whomever you value the most is who should be prioritized in your life. These are the people you would talk to every day while you are on vacation, for example, your children, your spouse and your besties. Research has shown we are unable to have more than a few intimate relationships at a time. We may have a larger circle of people around us as general friends, coworkers, and maybe regular clients, but not everyone can know everything about us or receive our best.

If you work in multiple areas or have more than one career, we can have an overload of people in our lives. We may be great at keeping up with social media, but our in-person relationships start to fall away from our time and energy. If any aspect of our lives is highly emotional, our ability to be present for our prioritized relationships can also fall short.

I experienced this realization three falls ago. I was the lead ethics liaison for the pediatric intensive care unit I worked in. I was project oriented. I thrived on difficult conversations. People, who I would never have in my circle on a general basis, sat down with me to discuss challenging stuff about patient care. “Drained” was more often my state of mind than not. My busy, growing photography season was drowning me.  There was icing on the cake as well. I traveled for a weekend to be with one of my friends who lived in a different state. Although I wanted to be with my friend for her surprise engagement (she is one of my prioritized relationship), I felt overwhelmed with guilt for being physically away from my children. 

This weekend away brought some key realization to my work/life balance. I was honored to be present for my friend’s engagement, and what was even more special was that her family was present. My friend was thrilled to have everyone there, especially her mom. I realized something in my own life had to change if I wanted to have the kind of relationship with my daughters like my friend has with her mom. At the rate I was going, I could not see my girls expecting or wanting me there for special moments of their lives. 

My girls are still of the age they want me to be with them so I decided I had time to change. I did not want to emotionally be too busy for them. Being away for a few days wasn’t the issue. It was being chronically disengaged emotionally because my priorities were off.  Over time, I was becoming more disconnected from the relationships I wanted to prioritize. I made a plan to quit my job and did so about two months later, finding something else emotionally draining. This lead to another job change a year after that to be home more often.

Being a role model for girls around productivity, leadership and success is necessary. If they strive after these things without being engaged in the most important relationships, I wonder if they will have learned the right things? I still struggle to give myself first to my prioritized relationships, but I want to keep improving until I’m flourishing in this. Being an extrovert means saying “no” to what seems great, when the thing or people are not my next best thing. Letting my clients wait a bit before answering or taking a few days off when my girls are out of school create a game changer for our relationship. I’ll find the time to be a great businesswoman, later. I don’t want to look back on life and wish I found more time to be a great wife and mother.

Do you have some relationships to prioritize? Resiliency comes when our lives are full with the right things. Does your relationship with God, your family or your spouse need attention? The world will keep going while you take a moment or two to say “no” and find connection with your people. A long time ago a pastor of mine said, “whoever you want sitting in the front row at your funeral are the people to invest in”. It may be rough to think about, but it is a great reminder of whom to prioritize.

On this busy day, take a few minutes to inventory your relationships. Text or call your people. Be intentional with no strings attached on the relationships you want to prioritize. Your day will be more joyful, I promise! Don’t shame yourself for what has previously happened. Today is a great day to get started. Let’s be a community that shows up for those we want front and center in our lives.


Published by Stephanie Trowbridge

Follower of Jesus. Artist. Wife. Mother.

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