ADVICE FROM A RELATIONSHIP COACH
THE IMPORTANCE OF MUTUALLY AGREED PURPOSES
A KEY STRATEGY TO SUCCESSFUL AND LASTING RELATIONSHIPS
DAVID PRICE FRANCIS
After thirty-seven years of marriage, I am often asked questions by couples such as, “What will help us stay together?” and “What are the secrets of a successful marriage?” I thought to take a look at relationships from an energetic perspective.
In my book Partners in Passion: Positively Transform Your Intimate Relationships by Understanding the Mystery of Energy Exchange, I explore the energetic dynamics that underpin any relationship, including the seven levels of love that can exist in intimate relationships. The fundamental
energetic dynamics that determine the quality and durability of a relationship are the same for all, even though they will play out differently for every couple. Each person is unique and every relationship is flavored by the personalities of the participants that are involved, which is why no two relationships are ever the same. However, when we increase our understanding of the natures of energies in relationships we can definitely improve the level of satisfaction we experience and make a successful relationship outcome more likely.
Understanding the basics of energy exchange and being able to practically apply these understandings to daily living is the first level of consciously growing loving and effective relationships. An important understanding in the variety of energetic dynamics within relationships, is a principIe I call the “Law of Polarity” sometime referred to as the “Law of Duality.” When this principle is applied to the energies in relationships it emerges as a tendency–whether in a couple or a group–for a division of power to occur into two polarities wherein the polarities compete and try to dominate each other. It takes a conscious effort to strive for effective teamwork where the focus on working productively toward shared goals and purposes is maintained, rather than allowing a polarizing power struggle of egos to occur as to who is right or wrong about a particular issue and who is more forcefully able to assert their position and dominate another.
Let’s suppose that two people engage in an argument because they both hold different views about the same topic. Perhaps one person insists that a particular city is the capital of a country and the other says they are wrong and that the capital is a different city entirely. In such a situation it is possible to refer to a neutral source, such as Google Maps, to discover the reality. One partner is right and the other is not. This is easy to do when there is an objective truth that can be fact checked against a neutral source, but what happens when two people have different views on a matter such as how their family money should be spent? There is now no neutral fact-checking service to refer to, so what is the most effective way for two people to discover their best way forward? When there are no overarching principles that a couple has come to create a mutual agreement in advance to act as a point of reference and arbitration during times of conflict, an argument can develop in which one person claims with all the force of their personality that they are right while the other person stubbornly holds the opposite view. If the two parties become increasingly fixed in their disparate views, it can lead to a corrosion of the energies within the relationship and, continuing over time, the possible permanent division of the team. So what is to be done in such a case?
In my experience within my own marriage and also in working with clients, I know that a neutral vector needs to be worked on and developed before the pressure of an argument starts to build. A couple may seek a counsellor, therapist, or even financial advisor (if the issue is about money) to act as a third party that does not have any personal involvement in their particular situation. This can help in the short term but in the long term it is imperative that the partners come to mutual understandings about what their priorities and purposes are as a team. It is these clear understandings that can then be referred to when arguments about polarizing issues, such as finance, begin.
Undertaking a prioritization process means a couple consciously creates a neutral or third vector by working out their individual positions about important issues in advance–when cooler heads prevail–to come to what is best for their endeavor as a team, which both people can then refer to. This means that partners need to thoughtfully discuss their priorities with each other and come to what I call “MAPS” which are Mutually Agreed Purposes. Once these purposes have been agreed upon, they provide a framework of decided priorities that each partner can refer to when issues arise, as they almost inevitably will. It is not only about the specific details of a particular issue at hand, but also about the bigger-picture, governing purposes and priorities in a relationship that help determine how partners can successfully approach and resolve issues that present difficulty.
An example from my relationship with my partner, Joanna, is that all the money she and I individually and jointly earn goes into a mutually-held account. This means that we both deposit all of our money into the same account with none held back. It is irrelevant who is earning more or less in any particular month because we have decided that we are equal partners of the same team, regardless of who is earning the most. After the team money has been pooled, each of us receives an agreed-upon equal allowance which we can spend however we wish. What each of us spends our money on is never questioned by the other so each of us has our own private sphere within which we can take personal initiatives, not affected by the other. The rest of the money–being the majority–is placed in our mutual pool of finance that is used for family expenses and saving. This is where team strengths come into play regarding who is primarily in charge of which dynamics within our relationship. Again, Joanna and I feel this is best discerned by who is best suited and can fulfill the particular task better for the success of the team. In our relationship through the years it became apparent that Joanna is a superior money manager to me. She is more conscientious at balancing the books and her investments have proven much more sound. Being a Sagittarius, born in the Chinese year of the horse, I am inclined to go charging into new projects in an optimistic manner and take much more risk. While this works well in some areas of life, it does not do well in the dynamic of finance and investing, as we have learned the hard way through the years. So, in our team, Joanna manages the family money and puts more time and energy into this, while I work more at trying to expand and develop new business opportunities. You could say that I am by nature more in the liberal polarity, while Joanna resides more in the conservative polarity. Together, we take both these traits and work out with each other what is to be done with regard to any particular project. I tend to be more “all in” and charge forward into whatever the dynamic, while she tends to be more reserved and ask “Are you sure about this? Let’s take another look.” The times our partnership has found itself in difficulty have been caused by me taking up a headstrong approach and making pronouncements such as “I am sure this will work” without having done sufficient research to back it up. By bringing both the liberal and conservative traits together and aligning them to our mutually agreed purposes we can produce blended decisions that work better for both of us and the endeavors we are mutually committed to.
In my practice I have found that the most successful relationships are those in which the partners combine their mutual strengths to produce a team that can achieve more together than each of them could individually. Whether in the realms of finance, travel, creating a happy family or other dynamics; when two people seek to build a successful team based on mutually-agreed priorities and purposes, it is no longer about who may be right or wrong, but what will bring the most effective result. This means moving on from polarizing arguments in which each of the partners wants to be right at whatever cost, to where each of the partners strives to consciously create a supportive mutual energy field toward a constructive purpose. It requires extra work but is well worth the journey to combine the power of “I am” with the conscious mutuality of “we are”, thereby bringing greater continuing success to both partners.
For more information on creating successful relationships and to purchase David’s book, visit: http://www.energyworlds.com/shop/.