21 Ways to Upgrade Your Relationships (Part 1)

I was once in a conversation with a man who was very critical and derogatory toward another man. I gathered he had experienced something very negative with this man and now he resented the guy. Sometime later, I saw these two men together. The man who had made these cutting remarks was now smiling and behaving as if they were good friends. It was a strange contrast with what I had witnessed earlier.   

We are in a variety of relationships with others including:



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Extended family members

People in our church

Yet, many of our relationships rock along, year after year, with very little attention or energy invested.

This series is about upgrading our relationships. What are some practical ways to invest in the relationships that really matter?

Consider these 21 ways to upgrade your relationships:

1. Take inventory of some of the relationships that are most significant to you. How would you rate your marriage right now? How would your spouse rate this same relationship? Is there a relationship with one of your children that is either strained or non-existent? Is this a relationship in which your own renewed investment of time, energy, and attention might make a significant difference? What about your friendships? Is there a friend with whom you need to take the initiative to reconnect?

2. Choose a person (spouse, child, friend) today and do something that communicates to this person that you value her.

3. Make a list of 5 to 10 people who are important to you. List how each of these people adds value to your life. Thank God for each person. Communicate your gratitude to at least one person this weekend.

(to be continued)


What have you found to be helpful toward upgrading your relationships?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “21 Ways to Upgrade Your Relationships (Part 1)

  1. I had a friendship of 20+ years that was lopsided. The other person dominated most conversations with what I came to regard as complaints about her life (rocky relationship with family, divorced, hard luck on jobs). Because I’m a listener, I was usually the passive one in the relationship relegated to offering that listening ear. Over time, it wore me down. Several years ago I withdrew and when I felt able, I approached her and let her know how I felt. She was receptive and made a conscious effort not to be so self-absorbed and to be more present in our relationship. However, a few of years went by and again, I felt worn down by what I perceived as a lot of complaining. I once again got my nerve up and told her that I was tired of all the complaining. To break up the tension that I was feeling, I made an unfortunate choice of jokes and said, “I don’t want to be friends anymore; no I’m just kidding.” Well, over a year went by without me hearing from this person after that conversation. One day I called her to apologize for offending her. What she said to me was, “I thought you made it clear you didn’t want to be friends anymore” (this after I continued to send cards on holidays and birthdays that were not reciprocated). I explained to her my intent from our last conversation and even recounted the whole conversation. She thanked me, gave me up an update on her children and said that everything in her life was okay and that’s how the conversation ended. After that call, I decided that if our relationship was meant to be, God would have to bring us together. Ever since that last conversation, I can honestly say that I do not miss our relationship. I think of her from time to time, but I don’t miss the friendship. I believe that there are times in our lives in which we grow apart from people and sometimes it’s for the best. Out of my experience, I found my voice and was able to tell someone close to me how I felt and how their actions were dragging me down. If she were to call me today, I’d talk, but I’m a different person and certainly wouldn’t sit back allowing her to dump on me. So, while this sounds counter to what you’re saying, I’m actually agreeing with your point about taking an initiative with one’s relationships and in some instances that might not mean an upgrading of the relationship. It could mean that the relationship will end or change dramatically, but maybe it’s a different type of upgrade. Maybe it’s an upgrade of one’s own self as in my case. But it could mean an upgrade in a relationship in which both people mature and are better people for their encounter and the relationship is taken to a whole new, healthy level.

    • Pat,
      Thank you for this comment and the story of a very difficult relationship. Actually, I think this is an “upgrade” in that you made some very good attempts to redefine this relationship. You attempted to keep it from remaining at a level that was draining and energy depleting. You attempted to move this to a different level. Instead remaining passive, you approached your friend and offered to work to create something different. Thanks so much for this story, Pat.

  2. Hi there! This is my first visit to my blog–glad to make your acquaintance through the HighCallingBlogs network!

    This post is timely for me. One reason is because I’m reading excerpts from How to Win Friends and Influence People to my kids, and your #3 suggestion is similar to Carnegie’s chapter 2, lavish people with honest, meaningful, and sincere praise and appreciation (I’m summarizing). So we’ve been trying to practice that these past few days. Sometimes it comes out in the form of gratitude.

    The other reason is because my husband and I have made an effort to schedule outings with just one parent + one child (we have four children). This gives each child one-on-one time with a parent, and that individual attention is proving to be a really important investment.

    Sounds like a great series–looking forward to catching more of it!

    • Hi Ann,
      Thanks for your words. I applaud you and your husband for making the effort to schedule time with one child/on parent. How very, very important. We did this with each of our children (now adults) and I am so glad we did. Thanks.