I’ve been blessed to hear multitudes of stories counseling couples over the years. As a result, I’ve come to believe there’s three requirements of real relationships. The reason I say “real” is because some relationships don’t operate from the same reality. The story of defining real relationships begins with my learning to dance.
Relationship Patterns Are Like Dance Movements
I grew up in a faith tradition that doesn’t believe in playing cards, smoking, and drinking. Most of all, it was an unpardonable sin to engage in pre-marital dancing! As a result, it was like I denied a “real” part of myself. And it wasn’t the smoking and drinking I was drawn to.
Rather, I began to integrate freedom, movement, creativity, and music. I discovered an emotionally safe partnership through taking ballroom dance lessons. I quickly discovered dancing was like sparks of light into deeper places of my soul.
The light-hearted atmosphere of learning to dance helped me take myself less seriously. And it was a contrast from the crisis counseling work I was doing at the time. The positive energy provided joy and the lighter side of life.
After a few group and private lessons, I became more aware and skilled. During group lessons, certain dance moves felt different when we switched partners. Each dancer had their own style, frame, and posture. Each one carried a unique energy, rhythm and frame.
In a sense, we relate to our spouses through relationship patterns similar to dancing. From our family of origins, we all learned behaviors and styles. Of course, those automatic “dances show up in our adult relationships.
If we want our relationships to be real, we need to be aware of the automatic dances. Then, be willing to change them and grow. The three requirements are reciprocity, change, and fun.
Requirement # 1 – Your Relationship Requires Reciprocity
During romance, we feel the connection and familiarity. Both partners energetically want to be together and have fun.
When the chemistry wears off, our default patterns take over. The ease of the relationship dance works for a while until normal life stressors enter. They include child-rearing differences, financial habits, career transitions, moves, and in-laws difficulties. What began as exciting and bigger than life becomes boring and irritating.
This is the time to change relationship dances. New seasons and stressful transitions are the times to change those steps and styles. And it certainly takes two to make that happen.
Remember, your relationship requires reciprocity. Here’s requirement number two.
Requirement # 2 – Your Relationship Requires Change
Every stage of life is an invitation to discovering your authentic self. As a result, you begin to discover parts of your relationship that were previously hidden. For example, the transition from couplehood to parenthood opens up new and different roles.
Research indicates a 70% drop in marital satisfaction within a baby’s first year of life. The husband/wife roles change to dad and mom. One parent may become jealous of time and attention a young child requires. It’s normal to experience anxieties during life transitions. Of course, the responsibilities of developing another human being can be overwhelming at times.Every stage of life is an invitation to discovering your authentic self. Click To Tweet
Additional financial pressure, household chores, and caring for a baby requires a shift in perspectives. Expectant parents should consider couples’ counseling. It’s better to be pro-active when anticipating major changes.
Not only in the child-bearing years, but the dance of a marriage changes with each season of life. What may have worked early on in your relationship may not be relevant now.
Remember, your relationship requires change. Here’s requirement number three.
Requirement # 3 – Your Relationship Requires Fun
We all need fun-loving energy in our partnerships. Unfortunately, negative thinking and limited beliefs take their toll on a marriage. Dr. John Gottman’s longitudinal studies of couples give us insight. The problem is not a matter of having less conflict than the average couple. Rather it’s the couples who don’t recover quickly from conflicts who are more likely to divorce. Happily married couples still experience 67% of unresolved conflict. But they’ve learned to shake it off quicker than troubled couples.We all need fun-loving energy in our partnerships. Click To Tweet
The energy we carry in our relationships affects the neurons in our brains. Plus, our body and mind holds memories of experiences and tensions. We need to be intentional about light-hearted laughter and fun activities. Especially with those closest to us.
Remember, your relationship requires reciprocity, change, and fun. But let’s examine your next move.
What’s Your Next Move?
You might have guessed that my husband and I met through ballroom dancing. And we had a great couples dance teacher. In order for any of us to learn a new rhythm in our relationships, we need help. It takes a trained relationship therapist or coach.
Remember, the three requirements of real relationships.
1. Your relationship requires reciprocity.
2. Your relationship requires change.
3. Your relationhip requires fun.
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