The Need for Flexibility In Successful Relationships
“Okay, so our core values match and we are ready to pursue a long term relationship.”
So what now?
“We’ve renewed our vows and want to re-create our relationship with peaceful intentions and an awareness of being on the same side in all we do.”
So what now?
“Total acceptance you say! How do we do that?”
Well, let’s have a look. You think one thing. Your partner thinks another. It might be whether to replace the car or what color to paint the kitchen. How do you reach a decision? If both of you hold fast to your original position, you can’t. At least one of you has to change your position.
There are various ways this can happen.
- One person is always adamant, and the other accedes. Not a good idea for a balanced relationship.
- You compromise. Maybe you take it in turn, maybe there’s a balance sheet scored by the scale of the concessions. This may work for many couples, but we don’t think this is a good idea. You may have different views on the value of the concession, but worse than that is the act of the concession itself. Someone always loses. It may rankle for a long time – until the kitchen is repainted or the car is resold.
- You can both be flexible.
Guess what – we pick the third choice! Let’s examine what it involves.
Holding on to your original position is, when you think about it, an incredible act of hubris. Is this really the best position in the whole world? Have you examined every other one and found it wanting? Are you sure there isn’t another possibility you might have overlooked? Is there a teeny chance your ego doesn’t like admitting it’s wrong?
So let go of the need to be right. It only gets in the way.
This is a skill that can be learned. It even has a distinct feel to it. When you can let go of the attachment to your idea and just see it as one of many, bobbing in the stream, any tension and conflict about the decision disappears.
The next trick is to realize that for any issue, there will be multiple solutions that work for you. You just haven’t found them yet. With all that in place, here’s how issues can get resolved peacefully.
Each person describes their position, their reasons for it and their feelings about it. This gives the listener different ideas plus the opportunity to empathize. The speaker may even gain insight themselves through the act of clearly articulating reasons and feelings.
This process allows new possibilities to arise that might accommodate your partner’s position, both rational and emotional, and by continuing this process you can find a place that works for both of you without either person having compromised.
We have been using this process to make decisions and solve problems for many years now, and it has turned into something we really look forward to. The experience itself always brings us closer, gives us a sense of our shared intimacy and the results are always better than anything either one of us had in mind before.
Recently we were planning a trip to celebrate our anniversary. We started out with two very different ideas of what to do.
Maude: I want to go to somewhere neither of us has been before, but I just don’t want to drive a long distance. I drive so much for work, it wouldn’t really feel like a vacation if I were driving again.
Phil: I was thinking of a long California drive but I know what you mean. Since you don’t like driving on our trips, I always wind up being the driver. I’m not much in the mood for being the driver either. Maybe we should fly.
Maude: The only problem with that is I so enjoy the scenery and seeing all the places we go through on the way to somewhere. I was thinking of maybe going to Yellowstone, but it’s a long way off and would involve a lot of driving. But I know neither of us has ever been in that part of the country, and I think we would both love it. The trip would be great for you to take photos on too.
Phil: I love the idea of Yellowstone. Now that we are talking, I remember seeing a train trip advertised which leaves from San Francisco and connects to trains all the way to Yellowstone. You know how I love trains. We had such a great time when we went to Portland, Or. Sleeping on the train was so much fun and we met such great people.
Maude: OMG, now I’m getting really excited. I love that idea. Let’s look it up and see what we can book!
Who would have thought there was such power in flexibility?
When you are locked into set ideas, this causes conflict in all your relationships. Flexibility enables you to be sensitive to your partner and pay attention to what makes them comfortable or happy with any given situation.
Let go of the need to be right. It only gets in the way #relationships #quote Click To TweetIf you practice remembering at all times that both of you are on the same side and are seeking to create mutual solutions together, then flexibility will be your watchword.
When you remain flexible and even start to greet the differences your partner brings to the relationship with pleasure, you will very quickly find that your world is greatly enlarged and that you are experiencing things that you could never have come to on your own. You will share an existence that is open and changing and at the same time not frightening or upsetting.
One of the great benefits from this flexible approach to your partner and your relationship is the change you will notice in yourself. This way of being together brings with it a deep sense of peace and well-being.
So we say to all those who would walk the path of flexibility and total acceptance: celebrate the differences, reap the benefits of new ways of looking at and doing things, and stretch the boundaries of who you are.