The first blog of this year focused on how we can maximize our lives. In addition to being physically fit, it is just as important to be mentally and emotionally healthy. So with this mind, I am happy to introduce today’s guest blogger, Julie Ward, who is relationship coach, author and public speaker.
Your Relationship: Is it Supportive, Inflexible or Spineless?
In order for a relationship to optimally endure the wear and tear of life, it requires a couple to consciously do the work to keep it vibrantly healthy.
Doing a check in on how your relationship system operates today is a positive proactive step to self-assess, so you can make adjustments to support your lasting love. Most couples never view their relationship as a system; one that operates separate and distinct from their own individual selves yet it does. It has it’s own body of knowledge, it’s own behaviors and it’s own needs.
Consider, an inflexible relationship is one where the rules of engagement are fixed in time. They were likely established very early on in the relationship, often unspoken, unwritten and perhaps even unconscious ways of inter-relating to the other that may have worked ‘back then’ but do not necessarily serve now or long term, especially as people develop. If one person attempts to shift the relationship, grow it to another level, the kickback pain may come in the form of a compliant voiced as “We’ve always done things this way.” Or “That’s just the way it is.” Inflexibility and resistance to adjusting to emerging growth changes is a common reason relationships breakdown over time and couples report they have drifted apart and are disconnected.
Whereas, a spineless relationship is where the rules around the relationship are constantly changing and there are no healthy boundaries. Ultimately, neither will be happy for any length of time. Spineless behaviors take the shape of saying one thing and doing another or not following through on an agreement that was made – it all stems from a person’s inability to uphold honorable boundaries. And it’s never about what the other person is or is not doing. It’s about being 100% responsible for one’s own cause, in what is being allowed. If boundaries are not honored by oneself it will lead to the degeneration of trust in both people, which is foundational for a healthy relationship. Without trust, the ensuing tension will become chronic and rather painful.
Now, the supportive relationship is one where there is a clear commitment to making the relationship thrive. It means that both people are aligned on the greater good of the relationship versus their own individual needs. The foundational building blocks for any healthy relationship are trust, honor and respect. And then a couple adds in other ‘must-haves’ such as quality time together, laughter, happiness or family. Creating a vision based on values will carry them far into their future as it is a strong yet supple structure; flexible yet focused.
By having the relationship needs override when those times of conflict come up (and they will!) a couple can get aligned on what they said was important for their lasting, loving relationship. For example, if he wants to buy a new TV for the family and she would rather spend the money on a weekend getaway where they could get aligned is around quality time to relax, get connected and be happy as a family. When they respect each other’s viewpoint and get curious as to what is in service to their relationship vision – they can then negotiate outcomes without compromising values, with much greater openness and ease. So it no longer becomes “I want” but “What will make this relationship better?”
If you haven’t created a powerful vision or it’s not fresh anymore, consider either spending the time communing one evening and co-creating a vision board together that includes pictures of all you dream about for your future – your family; vacation spots; the ideal house; and words or phrases that capture the essence of what you are committed to as a couple.
Another option is to create a loving ambience one evening – complete with candles and wine perhaps. Then in silence and separately write down all the things you love and desire for your life on sticky notes. After twenty minutes – not less – stop and then start sharing your “love notes” and grouping them to see where you naturally are aligned. Ask each other “What’s important about that?” so that you each deepen your understanding of your Beloved’s values related to any specific desire.
Remember you can be aligned without ever having to agree. One way is not better than another. They are just different paths to the same destination – happiness.
Julie Ward, founder of reconneXYons, is a Toronto-based transformational relationship coach, author and public speaker, working with ‘women with wants’ and ‘committed couples in crisis’. www.julieward.com
April 13, Julie is offering a 1-day life-changing intensive for women who wish to Understand Their Dance in Relationship, in order to have what they say they want. Check it out! Special registration rate ends April 5. www.understandingyourdance.com