Newsletter, Issue 15
I was touched last week to hear how a client and his wife designed a wedding week rather than a single day after exploring what they wanted from ‘getting married’. It was a wonderful reminder of what is possible when we have a clear vision of what we want and an outcome that we can describe. For my client it was a week of shared memories, connection and fun with family and friends, from 2 – 70yr olds, and most importantly a uniquely personal wedding created in the moment by everyone.
Investing in Our Marriage as well as Our Wedding Day
As we near summer and some plan their ‘perfect’ wedding day, I am struck by the contrast in the enormous amount couples tend to plan or talk about the wedding itself and the little couples tend to talk about what they want in their relationship together beyond that day and during their marriage. It’s not that planning a special day is a bad thing; in fact this can be a wonderful place to get to know your partner better as you try to weave your individual desires, dreams and needs together, at what is often a highly charged emotional time with high family involvement. Great practice for marriage! However, what if after the wedding day you spent as much if not more time, energy and yes, money, on your marriage and supporting yourselves in having the life together that you want. When do we make the space for this and invest in our relationships?
What is Your Relationship Vision?
Take a moment now.
What do you want your relationship to be like?
What is your vision for the future?
What do you believe would make you happier in your relationship?
Take some time out to write down your relationship vision describing it in detail, giving examples where possible of what more general things look like. For example if you write down ‘more loving’ would that be that you think about each other’s needs more, are kinder to each other, are more romantic, more physical with each other or something else? Ideally your partner sits down and does the same so you can explore together what you both think you want. Often I find one partner will be interested and ready to explore this whilst the other will not, whether it’s because it’s out of their comfort zone, they are just in a different place, don’t want to feel under pressure to do it, or are scared of the possible outcome, however imaginary.
Taking Care of Yourself, Takes Care of Relationship
So, know you can still do this exercise for yourself and gain more clarity about what you want and the opportunity to notice your own needs, and still impact your relationship. After capturing your vision, consider what needs and desires are actually individual to you and explore how you can directly address these yourself, noticing where you are making these your partner’s responsibility (and probably fuelling disappointment and anger). An example might be that you want to feel more taken care of. Realising you can learn to take care of yourself might mean giving yourself daily space to reflect, choosing to exercise or eat differently, spending time with certain friends, being creative or creating time for spirituality etc. Owning this rather than placing it on the relationship creates space in the relationship for change. It’s all too easy to stay blaming our partners and the relationship. Next, consider which needs and desires are relational and ask your partner how you might explore and address them together. An example of this might be a desire to feel closer and more intimate together with your partner.
Differences and Individuality are Essential for Healthy Relationship
Don’t underestimate how scary it can be talking about relationship dreams and desires with our partners. It’s normal to feel defensive as many of us feel expectation to or think we have to address or meet our partner’s needs. It’s also normal to feel disappointed that our relationship is the one place where we find it hardest to hold onto and move towards our vision. At certain stages in relationship it is inevitable that we see the differences as incompatible and insurmountable, when differences and individuality are actually essential for healthy relationship. Couples often come to me at this time of despair and frustration to learn how to develop individually AND stay in relationship.
In a wider context, with so much uncertainty in and around us we may start to only see what is not possible. Having a vision of where we are going can help us to find a positive focus and the small, tangible steps we can immediately take towards it.
Dare to explore your relationship vision.