You are in the right place if you are either in a partnership, looking for inspiration, or if you are currently in a phase to deal with yourself as well as your wishes and needs regarding a partnership. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a partner or not. After all, you are in the relationship that is truly important – that with yourself.
These are not empty words, in fact, they have a deep meaning. We are only able to have the kind of relationship with another person that we have with ourselves. In other words, you can only offer something that you can access.
If you would like to understand the challenges and contradictions in a relationship, then you have come to the right place. Although all people are different, all relationships share certain patterns that occur regularly. To understand these patterns, to recognize your own, and to then work on them together provides the opportunity to build a relationship that can endure and support the personal growth of the partners.
If this sounds exciting to you, you’re welcome to reflect on your relationship in a more differentiated way by using a certain model.
You Are In Several Relationships With Your Partner
If you currently have a partner, then you are already in multiple relationships rather than just one.
In accordance with the famous book by Richard David Precht, Who Am I? And If So, How Many?, let’s assume that you as a human being are a very complex creature.
The same is true for your partner. Each of you has different versions of your personality with which you relate to the outside world – whether it be as a father, son, mother, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, colleague – as well as to each other – as a man, woman, lover, best friend.
Each of us takes on different roles, even in the same relationship
Surely you have already noticed that your behavior changes, depending on the role that you are currently playing on the inside. In this case, we all know that we sometimes misjudge our role. For example, instead of telling our child to wrap themselves up warmly, we might tell our partner to do so – despite the fact that they are adults and able to make that decision for themselves.
These role dynamics are quite interesting, and it is worth looking at them more closely to ensure that the relationship succeeds.
1. A great team and a family
So, you and your partner take on very different roles.
First of all, you form a great team together. This means that gender differences are of secondary importance. You can rely on and be there for each other while sharing responsibility.
You are partners in life, a unit of responsibility, and you both feel a sense of belonging towards each other. It feels like home. Trust is the core feeling.
2. Best friends
However, you were not born as relatives, but rather have chosen one another.
In order for people to choose another person, it usually requires a shared vision of how you want to live, as well as common aspirations and interests. A mutual third aspect both partners are interested in independently of each other and which is extremely important to them.
This shared focus may also lead you to feel as if you are best friends. Mutual respect and a sense of being understood are the core feelings here.
3. Man and woman
Finally, there is mutual attraction. It stems from a positive tension. For this tension to emerge and persist, differences or distance are required.
For this level, the core feeling is that of being desired and desiring. In order for this to exist in a committed relationship, both partners still need another form of validation that they are special to the other. Based on my observation as a couple therapist, women have a greater need to feel that their man is paying attention to them. By contrast, men are more likely to need their wife to trust them. This trust does not just revolve around honesty but relates more to a trust in the man’s ability to take care of certain things and to be supportive of the woman.
Whether there is scientific evidence for this observation, I have not researched yet. If confirmed by studies, the question remains as to whether they are due to cultural or evolutionary reasons. Although this debate covers a broad range of issues, it is not essential to the question on how to positively influence relationships between couples today. Thus, we will adopt this observation as a hypothesis and expand upon it. In case the derived recommendations for action yield a desired result, they have fulfilled their purpose.
This means that as a couple you already have three different relationships with one another. Each of them is important for a long and happy partnership, because they meet different needs.
However, they all have one thing in common – they either need a lasting bond to form the basis, or they create a bond over time. For this reason, we as humans try to fulfill these three different needs for existential security, emotional intimacy and a satisfying sexual experience with the same person. It’s both practical and safe. And fortunately, it is also romantic.
However, it is quite challenging to keep these three different relationships with one and the same person alive and in balance throughout the different phases of life.
For this reason, we ask you to be aware of this intellectual model with regard to a relationship.
A long-term partnership depends on different routines within these layers of a relationship in order to keep it healthy and alive.
It takes intimacy, unconditional trust, and a sense of belonging in order to feel at home with the other person. In contrast, erotic desire draws new tension from distance.
This distance derives from either spatial distance or positive, emotional distance. Emotional distance arises when the other person is different from oneself in certain aspects which always makes them interesting in some way. Thus, differences regarding personality create emotional distance which is beneficial for the level of eroticism. Finally, from what I have observed, a good relationship needs one more thing.
Namely, having an external focus outside of the relationship, that allows both partners to devote their attention and priority in life independently of each other. This is known as the common third.
The common third
This can be a lifestyle, such as traveling regularly, volunteering or engaging in other hobbies, as well as running a business together. However, in most cases our common focus is directed at the responsibility for the family and the children. At the same time, this is also a predetermined breaking point for many marriages. This occurs when the common focus shifts and circumstances change – by transitioning from the couple to the family, for example, and when the children move out, shifting back to the couple again.
These milestones in life prompt the partners to redirect their focus and readjust themselves together. This can be very beautiful and exciting, but it may also lead to a difficult stage in their shared journey.
Dreams of the future
As we continue to expand our content, you will find articles and videos addressing the multiple challenges that occur at these different relationship levels and various approaches on how to overcome them.
Starting in the fall of 2021, we will also offer an online journey for couples.
By embarking on such an inner journey together, you can take a closer look at your relationship in a structured and guided way, discover unexplored potentials for shared experiences and personal growth, and breathe new life and energy into your relationship as a whole.
And if you are already encountering a particular challenge in one of these three relationship levels? Whether it be in regard to family and trust, your erotic relationship with one another, or your focus on a common alignment in life?
Then feel free to send me, Angela, an email.
Allow yourself to be inspired.
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