Are You an A+ Student in Relationships? Here’s How to Start Making the Grade


The Grade on My Relationship Report Card

It would be wonderful to tell you as a Life Coach that I always make the grade when it comes to relationships.  If you’re human, as I am, there’s always room for growth in this area. Ahhhh, the reason relationships have a permanent category on this blog devoted to growth.

I have a 34 year marriage, a daughter who is my bestie and a great circle of short and long term friends. On the other hand I friends from high school (and even friends from 5 years ago) that I rarely if ever talk to. My family by blood is fairly small and the number I remain in contact with is even smaller.  So by no means am I a genius on this topic. However, I have experience.

Getting More from the Experience than just a Grade

Similarly, in relationships and experience you regularly receive the test before the lesson.

Experience – is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward. – Oscar Wilde tweet

Whether I’m looking at the good relationships or those that have dropped off the face of the earth the following are the key lessons I’ve learned.  When I’m making the grade then I’m tracking well in these areas. Likewise, if the relationship is falling or faulting (earning a big fat F) then I’m not doing these well. And the same is true for those I’m in relationship with. If they are tracking well the relationship is going great. Not tracking…not so great.  As all relationships are a two way street.

5 Lessons for Making the Grade  in Relationships

A – Acceptance To truly make the grade in relationships you have to accept the other person fully.  Accept the good, the bad and the ugly.  It doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries or communicate disappointments. It means that you chose to focus and not fix. Instead of working to fix all their flaws you leave their personal growth journey to them and focus. Focus on the good that exists within them, what attracted you to them in the first place, and to love unconditionally. I love this quote.

See the beauty in others and treat them as if beauty is all you see. -Unknown tweet

2. A – Acknowledge Acknowledge their humanity. It is easy, especially in long-term relationships, to see the other person as husband, daughter, workout buddy or whatever role they play.  However, the role they play in your life is only a small picture of the whole human that is before you.  Acknowledge that precious human – their hopes, their dreams, their fears, their feelings. And heaven forbid, don’t make them wrong for having them. Even if you don’t understand them, for the relationship to work, acceptance and acknowledgement are key.

3. A – Appreciate Be truly grateful for them. Appreciate their presence, their differences, their opinions, their experiences.  Appreciate all of them.  Destiny has brought you together for a purpose – to learn, to grow, and to teach you to love better. Appreciate them as they are and for all that the impact they have made on your life. Even the most negative of relationships have taught us valuable lessons. Appreciate them for that.

4.  A – Accountability One of the quickest ways I’ve seen relationships set adrift personally and in others is getting this thing called accountability all wrong.  In the name of accountability and because “we love them” we judge.  While we do our best to make it about  “your wrong behavior” the person on the receiving end only hears “you’re wrong”.  And quite frankly hanging out with people that always make me feel “I am wrong” isn’t my idea of fun. I am looking for encouraging, supportive and uplifting relationships.  One of the best ways I’ve learned to do this is by turning the question from Andy Stanley’s Best Question Ever outward towards the person. (Instead of towards self which the whole book is about).  It would sound something like this

“In light of your hopes and dreams for the future is (insert behavior) the wise thing to do? Take the time to really listen to what they have to say. And then you can ask “How can I support you in aligning your actions with your hopes and dreams?” Notice in the second question you have already moved on from the negative behavior. 

5. A – Abide by their boundaries While some boundaries are universal, boundaries can be a personal thing. And sometimes a thing that from your perspective doesn’t make any sense.  Remember it’s not our job to fix them but to acknowledge and accept them.  Certainly we can question to understand but never question to undermine.

Grab your journal; it’s your turn.

  1. Our relationship with others is only as strong as our relationship with ourselves.  Take a few minutes with each item above and reflect on how well you are doing in relationship to yourself. Are their parts of yourself you don’t accept? What do you appreciate about yourself? Have you acknowledge those things?  Internal awareness creates external change.
  2. Make a list of your top 3 relationships. Review each of the above items. What actions do you feel prompted to take? Show appreciation, apologize for crossing a boundary or discounting their feelings? Take a few moments to pick up the phone and take that action.
  3. What resonated with you or your experience in today’s post? Would love to hear about your experience in making the grade with relationships.


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