Each relationship combines two individual stories to coauthor a new relationship story. The implicit contracts authored by each party in a relationship become unspoken assumptions that can facilitate or derail the relationship.
A crucial part of communication in a relationship is to make explicit the hidden assumptions and implicit expectations. To see the point of view of the other and to communicate that understanding, each must respect the other’s point of view. Understanding and respect are not synonymous with agreement.
The ultimate freedom is not to rely on someone else’s response to determine how you feel about yourself.
Ineffectiveness of communication, simply feeling that what you said was not heard or registered by the other, may result in irritation or anger. So often the content of the discussion is focused on with greater intensity, rather than the process initiating the derailment of feeling ineffective in not being heard.
14 Relationship Principles
1. Each person has a point of view. Communication is the establishment of a common ground to understand different points of view to create a mutual, collaborative agreement or plan.
2. Developing empathy with another is predicated on doing it with yourself first. Empathy is a way of listening to yourself as well as to another person with resonance of an entire experience of feeling, thinking, perceiving, and behaving.
3. Rapport is from the French word rapporter which means to be in touch or contact with a person, including yourself.
4. With emotionally charged subjects, reflect back to someone what you hear them saying before saying what you will say. This reflection assures the other’s sense of effectiveness in knowing that you register what was said, and better positions him or her to hear your point of view.
5. What someone believes is more important than what they know.
6. Requiring that others respond to you in a particular way renders inauthentic the person and their response.
7. We are always communicating; there are many languages, and some even use words. “Do not the most moving movements of our lives find us all without words?” (Marcel Marceau)
8. What you don’t do is as important as what you do.
9. Strike while the iron is cold. Known when to be reflective and invoke principles. When a child is drowning is no time to teach rules of swimming.
10. There are few true emergencies in life. “I’d like to think about that and get back to you” is a response.
11. Everyone fails empathically with another at times. Most important in a relationship is how the empathic ruptures are learned from to then come together with greater understanding. At times the most important thing may not be what you have done, but what you do after what you have done.
12. To forgive someone is to free yourself.
13. You cannot change yourself by first trying to change someone else. To have someone live an unexpressed part of yourself can be both unsatisfying and addictive.
14. The only person you can change is you. Attempting to change someone else’s mode of processing or personality style won’t work, and will create derailments. Quicken software will not change to WordPerfect.
Relationship Principles Applied to Marriage
1. Marriage is the most difficult and complex contract someone can enter into that they will ever know. Communication is vital as an ongoing effort. Remember to reflect back what you hear the other saying first, in order to maintain effectiveness in communication.
2. Discuss how to facilitate meeting needs, as well as needs of love and connection in the relationship.
3. Be present to yourself and to your partner.
4. Limit spending the currencies of worry, regret, remorse and suffering.
5. Distinguish self issues from relationship issues and commit to work on both.
6. Collaborate on how to maintain romance, sensual pleasure and the “in love” feeling; when these experiences evolve over time, it does not have to mean a diminution of love, romance or excitement.
7. Recognize gender-specific and unique individual characteristics. For example, creating pleasure for a woman may include the romantic experience of candles, music, and a special dinner. The same pleasure for a man may include a certain dress, lingerie, and a graphic sexual encounter.
These reflections are designed to clarify and facilitate the developing a more satisfying relationship.
1. How did we do in our last conversation? How do I feel about that?
2. What patterns in our relationship and conversations do I want to expand? To change? To not create?
3. How do I feel around him/her?
4. Am I being all of myself in the relationship?
5. What judgements do I make of myself around this person? What judgments do I make of him/her?
6. What judgments or criticism do I assume and expect?
7. What do we each want from the other?
8. What do we each need from the other?
9. Am I relying on this person to provide some need or want that I could provide for myself?
10. How could I better support my partner?
11. What could I communicate to him/her know more about what I want and need?
12. What do we do for fun? How can we expand what we do for fun while taking into account our individual interests and definition of fun?