<< Back to Article Listing

Need a Relational Makeover?

The Best 5 Tips To Get You Started

 As I pen this article, the Writer’s Guild of America is still on strike so most of what’s new on television are reality shows. Have you noticed how many of them are about some kind of  “makeover?” I saw one the other day where a woman was hijacked right off the street into a makeover. Then recently, I was lying on the treatment table at a facial appointment listening to my cosmetologist describe the details of an episode of “Cosmetic Surgery Live.” I was not prepared to have those graphic images enter my mind. I’ve noticed that the morning talk shows frequently have a mini-makeover segment and that there is large audience rooting for the folks on “The Biggest Loser.” That so many of us dream of a physical makeover must have led to shows like “The Swan,” and “Extreme Makeover” but there are all of those home makeover shows as well: “From The Ground Up,” “Extreme Makeover: House,” and “Debbi Travis’ Facelift” not to mention what might have been the original home makeover show, “This Old House.” Currently, there is a local radio advertisement pitching a “Money Makeover.”  As I observe the frequency of these programs and pitches and as I listen to the political slogans for the 2008 election calling for change, I wonder, “Are we collectively longing for a Makeover of some kind?”


I frequently hear women express a desire akin to wanting a makeover in their intimate relationships. Not surprisingly, research shows that women are more often the ones who envision relational improvement, notice what improvements are needed, and initiate change. Certainly partners aren’t “home improvement projects,” but what woman hasn’t on occasion wished for a little relational remodeling in the hope of not having to do a full “Start-Over.”


Right now, as we launch the new and improved 50+Fabulous web magazine, seems like the perfect time to give readers my FIVE BEST TIPS FOR CREATING A RELATIONAL MAKEOVER.


Here they are:

1. Create a Vision.

Have you ever given a photo of a haircut you loved to your hairdresser and said “I want this?’ Taking the time to get a very clear picture of the changes you want in your relationship greatly increases your ability to bring about those changes and it is much easier to convey your desires to your partner. Take note of qualities you admire in other people’s relationship. Recognize that jealousy, albeit an uncomfortable feeling, is just an inner voice saying, “I want what she’s having!” Look for characteristics that inspire and expand your view of what’s possible in relationship. Observe carefully. Make a list of each of the changes you want. Focus on specifics and behaviors not just generalizations (such as “more harmony.”)


2. Commit to a Change.

The first phase of change requires mustering the energy to make a commitment. Initially it takes more energy to do a course correction but once headed in a new direction it will take less thrust. Watch for internal voices that zap the energy out of your enthusiasm about your vision--voices such as “My partner would never want to do such-and-such,” or “I didn’t have good role models so it’s not possible for me,” or “We’ve acquired too much baggage already,” or “This is how it’s always been, so what’s the point?” Have a dialogue with those voices, find out what they are afraid might happen if things change, reassure them that you can handle change and ask them to step back and make room for something new.


3. Become The Partner You Have Always Wanted To Be.

I repeatedly hear couples describe two obstacles to making relational changes. First, “”My partner doesn’t want to do anything about improving our relationship,” or second, “If my partner was just more… (handsome, rich, smart, sensitive, funny, etc.), then I would naturally be more… (secure, calm, happy, or positive.)” You are not dependent on your partner’s behaviors, characteristics, permission or agreement in order to start your makeover. If YOU become the partner YOU have always wanted to be, the relationship will already have changed. You are free to redefine yourself and to make choices about how you respond to every situation. Don’t give your choices away.


4. Do a “You Turn.”

Instead of looking to your partner to love you into feeling valued, praise you into having self-esteem, or forgive you into self-acceptance, you have the power to do that for yourself. YOU can TURN toward YOURSELF for much of the love and care you look for from others. Pull those vulnerable or doubting parts of yourself onto your lap, console them and encourage them, let them know you are there for them. Don’t discount the power of these compassionate, attuned internal encounters.


5. Enlist the 3 Best Change Agents.

Change most easily occurs when you engage one or all of the following:

·      Repetition. When you do (or refrain from doing) something enough times, it becomes easier and more natural. Repetition and practice will enable you to mold your reactions to challenging relational interactions into the ideal responses you have envisioned yourself having.  “Act-as-if” you are the person you want to be until you are.

·      Duration. Doing something over a long enough period of time brings about enduring change. Every passing day, week or month that you hold onto the “new you” (whether it’s a new pattern of relating, a new relationship to food, or a new attitude about life) ensures a greater chance of the changes enduring permanently.

·      Intensity. We’ve all had pivotal moments in our lives. What makes these moments life changing is an “Aha!” breakthrough or an undeniable consequence. Because of the intensity in these moments, change is inevitable. Give yourself and your relationship the chance to have these big moments. Try new things and take measured but challenging emotional risks: sign up for a couples workshop, make a habit of sharing books and movies that provoke new ways of thinking and feeling, take a risk with activities such as dance lessons or couples massage classes, or give couples counseling a try.

Start today! Let your partner be inspired to meet you in the new place of better relating.