How to Balance Structure and Flow in Your Relationship

Both life and relationships need a balance between planning and going with the flow. This is an important part of our lives and the lives of our relationships. Yet how do we do both at the same time?

People differ in the degree to which they are open to new experiences. (It’s one of the Big Five personality traits.) You might see it as an unalloyed good, but stop and think: change without limit is disintegration. Fluidity is great, but a bucket of water only retains its shape because of the bucket. Too much openness can be dangerous. Climbing Everest or trying heroin is risky. Structure, the opposite of openness, is also needed for stability.

It’s easy to picture how this might be a problem in a relationship. One person is free and easy, and wants to accept the last-minute offer of a weekend at a cabin; the other had a household project planned, and the car needs an oil change, and the gas and meals would bust the budget.

This doesn’t need to be a problem. Instead of seeing this as a clash of personality differences, think of it as a situation where each can learn from the other. The systematic person can accept the invitation to loosen up, be free and take more pleasure in life; the chronically disorganized can learn where the ice-chest lives and how to fit the trip into the budget.

To be open to each other requires communication and empathy. When you can state your needs and hear where the other person is coming from, the odds are good that there’s a solution that works for both of you.

Both life and relationships need a balance between planning and going with the flow #relationships Click To TweetIn our relationship, openness and flexibility are made possible by an underlying framework of commitment, communication and presence. By offering these to each other, we create the security that allows so many possibilities to exist.

We think it is important to celebrate every day and to be aware of the love your relationship brings into your life. We believe in “merry unbirthdays” just like the Mad Hatter, and we do celebrate each other in many small ways all the time.

It is also lovely to take some of the milestones like anniversaries to reflect and set intentions. Today is the 14th anniversary of our meeting and we’re headed to an Airbnb near Ojai for a couple of nights. In keeping with the sense of stepping out of the flow of everyday life, we usually look back on the year and forward at what might come.

We have several new elements that have entered our lives. An important one that has come with Maude’s leaving her very full-time job is that we have more opportunity to structure our time together.

As part of this shift, we have more time for activities involved with sharing our vision of spreading peace one relationship at a time. We’re excited about our coming launch of the audio of How Two: Have a Successful Relationship, we’re planning to produce more videos, and are looking at scheduling presentations locally and in new venues.

With this opportunity of going off for several days alone together, away from our everyday actions, we will be asking ourselves “What is going to be new for us about this year of our travels together?” and “What are we going to do with it?” We’re looking forward to cuddling up with these questions and exploring what changes are here or coming, and what we want to make of them.

All of these things take a certain level of being able to respond to change with flexibility while still holding to your goals. This is another one of those paradoxes that present opportunities for acting together to find mutual solutions.

When you are faced with situations where you need to bring these two paradoxical elements into balance, use Our Process for reaching mutual solutions, and find your unique creative answers to being flexible and going with the flow, while at the same time embedding your intentions and desires into the plan of action.

When you can make this process a celebration of your mutuality, and create plans which remain flexible and open, you will be filled with a sense of peace and well-being that is unsurpassed.

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