Spring is finally here! Whether you are already in a relationship or looking for one, the questions remain—what sort of relationship are you in, or what sort would you want?
What does it take to find your soulmate?
Contemporary Western culture lends to the belief (or even the hope) that there is one special somebody, somewhere out there in a great big sea, created just for us. I halfway musingly think of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Here is a story in which a young lady (presumably looking for a suitor) finds herself surrounded by dwarfs—men representing all of the undesirable stereotypical traits at the time of the story's inception. The dwarfs were short; they were bashful, sneezy, or grumpy. They did not live rich. In short, the seven dwarfs embodied everything the Prince Charming was not. The truth of reality is no suitor is perfect.
To find the right partner for yourself, or to improve the relationship that already exists, be encouraged—there are no dragons to slay or castles to overcome—just some basic aspects of relationships that, once understood, will alleviate some pressure.
The dwarfs were short; they were bashful, sneezy, or grumpy. They did not live rich. In short, the seven dwarfs embodied everything the Prince Charming was not. The truth of reality is no suitor is perfect.
Since the enlightenment era, the constitution of marriage has clearly shifted—a lot. Today, there are two predominant relationships that can be generally discussed: The typical and the enlightened. I personally recommend staying away from any association of "traditional" vs. "enlightened" or "post-enlightenment" because the connotation of the words suggests a connotation of "should," or "better than." Nobody knows what is better for you than you, so let us simply compare.
How do you define your relationship?
In Typical Relationships, partners tend to share a living environment and responsibilities, arguably because at the core is physical intimacy with a social connectedness with a depth merely comparable to a friendship.This is the first and most noteworthy difference between the two relationship types–at least to this coach.
As time goes on, the trend of choosing cohabitation over marriage is progressing. The impermanence of the relationship may contribute to the aforementioned experience becoming a cycle of un-resourceful experiences and/or behaviors. Couples who get married under these conditions, who do not continue to grow in a united direction, may find themselves mentally/emotionally attempting to fill an internal need, resulting in a state of dependency on others, or worse, codependency. As needs are unmet (because they are not truly understood), un-resourceful feelings may arise toward the partner. Relationship roles are often ill-defined, providing a catalyst for interpersonal conflict fueled by the lack of internal fulfillment. Growth, for these couples, tends to happen through experience, however pleasant or painful.
In Typical Relationships, partners tend to share a living environment and responsibilities, arguably because at the core is physical intimacy with a social connectedness with a depth merely comparable to a friendship.
In Enlightened Relationships (or more precisely, Western Post-Enlightenment Era Relationships), the foundation and priority is true companionship and mutual support toward growth. Shared interests and spending time together is the priority. The result is a relationship with greater emotional intimacy and meaning. Shared living space, responsibilities, and physical intimacy while present are more of a byproduct of the relationship.
These relationships agree to prioritize unity over dependency and collaboration or cooperation over relationship roles and blaming. These couples tend to grow individually in the same direction. They deliberately become more acquainted with themselves and their needs, as they communicate to each other, with the priority of protecting the relationship. Growth occurs through conscious learning rather than experience.
In Enlightened Relationships (or more precisely, Western Post-Enlightenment Era Relationships), the foundation and priority is true companionship and mutual support toward growth. Shared interests and spending time together is the priority. The result is a relationship with greater emotional intimacy and meaning.
So, which type of relationship do you think you have? What sort of relationship do you want? No relationship is perfect, but stay positive—we can all grow.
Growing within your Relationship
Growing within any relationship takes work, and with knowledge and experience come relationship skills. Here are some suggested areas to focus on to grow within each relationship type.
Those in typical relationships may want to consider:
Communication skills: Adapting strategies for compromise while becoming aware of triggers and patterns. Learn and communicate in each other's "love language."
Social balance: Be aware of disengaging from healthy friendships outside of the relationship—having social needs met outside the relationship in an appropriate manner, leaves individuals recharged to give back to the relationship.
Family history: Stay alert to areas of drama, competition, or control—often un- resourceful behaviors are echoed from our past or familial/societal influence. Be yourself! Creating a family map or a genogram can be a powerful tool. We can help!
Those in enlightened relationships may want to consider:
Compliment to each other: You probably know what you have in common, but how can the differences between you compliment each other? Celebrate your uniqueness.
Protect your unity: Be aware of and respect each other's triggers—create time and space to be together without drama, controlling behaviors, and negativity. Put in what you want to get out!
Work on your triggers: Get well acquainted with what sets you off, and spend the time to understand what it is about your triggers that make them trigger. Cognitive Behavioral or Rational Emotive Behavioral Training can be a serious booster. We can help!
Focused Pathways uses coaching strategies that have statistically improved the quality of relationships anywhere from 30-70% satisfaction. We use assessments that are 80% accurate in providing an unbiased reflection of where your relationship is at right now. Leave the past in the past, and let us help you start building a better tomorrow, today.