What does it take for a relationship to flourish?
After emerging from a prolonged period of forced togetherness during the pandemic, many couples find themselves looking for a relationship reset. Is it possible to reignite a relationship which has gone stale? For Maddie Weinreich, MCC, ORSCC, the answer is a decided yes.
“Although we may have longed for this involvement and had a magical beginning together, we often find ourselves complaining about our partner. As couples, we know how to push each other’s buttons,” Maddie says.
“Yet there’s a commitment in place, and many reasons to make the relationship work. We long for intimacy and the return to our original myth.”
In a recent Next Great Chapter meeting, Maddie shared some highlights from Alive in Love, her upcoming two hour virtual workshop. She took community members through a few quick exercises designed to increase positivity and decrease negativity in romantic relationships - an element which long-time relationship researchers John and Julie Gottman have identified as being at the core of lasting marriages. According to Gottman, the magic ratio is five positive to every negative interaction.
“Good relationship begins with you and extends into your partnership,” Maddie says.
The exercise featured below focuses on how to uncover the disappointed dream behind the complaint and take responsibility for your own happiness, rather than putting that responsibility on your partner.
An Exercise for Increasing Positivity and Reducing Negativity
1 - Identify a situation where friction between you and your partner exists - some form of disappointment. It could be something as simple as how the dishwasher gets loaded. What is the complaint? What is your disappointment?
2 - Consider what would be better. What is the longing? How do you wish it was around this topic with your partner? What is the value that you wish was being honored? Sometimes we get so lodged in the complaint that it’s hard to imagine what we actually want or what would be better.
3 - Imagine if it was better, if your longing was fulfilled, if things were going in a better direction. Begin to dream into that possibility. Imagine the situation unfolding the way that you think it could be, or should be. Just picture that for a moment. What would that be like? What would it feel like? Breathe into that scene for a moment.
4 - Who would you get to be? What parts of you would come forward or flourish?
5 - Finally, identify one step that you can take toward becoming the person you would get to be in the situation you are imagining. Will you take that step? By when?
While this exercise is perhaps most powerful when done together with your partner, choosing to bring a different energy has a surprising impact even when you do it on your own.
This exercise draws out positivity by incorporating the concept of Metaskills, another idea embedded in Relationship Systems Intelligence (RSI™). The idea, originated by psychologist Dr. Amy Mindell, holds that our relationships reflect the energy we choose to bring.
“Ownership is power,” Maddie says. “You have control over who you are being and how you are showing up - as friendly or funny or sincere - and it invites your partner to do the same thing.”
The Alive in Love workshop, coming up in February 2023, is packed with ideas to support a flourishing relationship. Although these work particularly well with a romantic partnership, they also apply to other kinds of relationship including friendships and work partnerships.
“While we may not have had our families model how to be in a healthy relationship, with knowledge, skill, intention, and practice, we can help our intimate partnerships to thrive,” Maddie says.
Access the Alive in Love Next Great Chapter replay.
Learn about the two-hour workshop.
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