Starting soon, a series of articles and posts will come out discussing different types of relationships here on my blog. I thought it might be fun to explore this often overlooked part of our relationships. So many people begin and start relationships - but do you know about the different types? Or did you just start in your relationship, assuming that you knew what you were getting into? How do you know you and your partner are on the same page? I have had lots of people come in to me for therapy because they were not on the same page as their partner, and it came to a head when the different in relationship types were exposed - usually in a dramatic flourish and with fanfare.
Have you sat down with your significant other or partner and intentionally decided that monogamy is the best option for your relationship? If you haven't - how do you know that you both are on the same page?
I have been doing some research and speaking with colleagues about their experiences with polyamorous or open relationships, and it got me thinking... When my wife and I first got together, we never talked about having more than one partner. We also never talked about desires to have multiple partners - or our thoughts and beliefs around having more than one intimate or romantic partner. We kind of 'took for granted' that we both knew what the other thought, and we both had the same views. This true? Until recently, we only had our internal beliefs based on assumptions to answer this question. So, like any good, OVERTHINKING sex and relationship therapist, I sat down to have a conversation with my wife about Intentional Monogamy. I no longer wanted to make assumptions about our relationship, and I wanted us BOTH to be on the same side... Turns out, we were (fortunately).
We both thought about it for a while, and decided we are intentionally monogamous. It is simply not part of our identity to be non-monogamous.
Intentionally Monogamous, as a relationship type, can be defined as the conscious decision (reached through introspection and communication with your partner) that the romantic relationship you are both involved in is the only one in which you will engage. There will be no additional partners, emotionally, financially, spiritually, romantically, sexually, or psychologically. Each person only has ONE partner, and that partner is YOU! (or the other person :-P)
This is all part of an exciting new series on relationship types - which will culminate in some helpful ideas on how to determine your own relationship identity and have the conversation with your partner(s) so you are all on the same page.
I am not a fan of Thanksgiving - due to it's historical foundations in the oppression and misrepresentation of indigenous first peoples. The good thing is that our current celebration of the holiday is centered around a time for us to give thanks to those people or things in our life that mean the most to us (often forgotten in the daily shuffle). This includes ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us.
As I've talked about previously, our relationships are a significant part of who we are. We are social beings - and even the lack of a relationship is a relationship in and of itself. There is a tradition that many families, couples, and friends engage in when celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday - going around the table before dinner and giving an example of what they are thankful for. This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to contemplate the following questions - they can bring you insight for yourself, and a closer connection with your partner(s).
NOTE: Some of these may not be appropriate for all family or friend gatherings... but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider their answer!
Be thankful, be merry... and remember that Thanksgiving is just one day - a reminder.
This is the last in a three part series based on Gottman Method Couples Therapy that is scientifically proven to help your relationship. Read on!
Repair Negative Interactions
If you want to have a good relationship, you have to be able to come back from an argument or disagreement and still enjoy the company of your partner - dare I say, even continue to like spending time with them. Literally EVERY SINGLE RELATIONSHIP WILL HAVE FIGHTS OR DISAGREEMENTS. It is impossible not to. While fighting or arguing fair and respectfully is very important, it's what you and your partner do after the fight or disagreement that best describes how well the relationship will move on.
We often get our feelings hurt in fights - it's the nature of the game. However, do you believe that your partner wants to hurt you? Do you actually think they are going out of their way to make you feel bad and tear you down? If the answer to those questions is true, you may want to look at seeing a therapist, working on your trust and commitment, and then making your way through the lower levels of the Sound Relational House.
For most of us, we know that a fight is a fight, and what is said in an argument is not always 100% representative of what the other person is actually feeling, or what they actually think of you. This is something you need to focus on after the disagreement is finished. Gottman calls the process after a fight of repairing any damage as, "The Aftermath of a Fight or Regrettable Incident" and it includes steps to help process what happened.
There are six steps in the Aftermath of a Fight or Regrettable Incident process. They include:
You might find this handout helpful - it will help you understand each level and what to do in these stages.
I hope this was helpful for you and your relationship - feel free to give me a ring and set up an appointment if you want more direct services.
Here is a three part series on how to improve your relationship with three Gottman Method Couples Therapy ideas based on actual empirical research.
The Magic Number
... well, it's actually more of a ratio than a number. However, before you get scared away - it's really easy to understand and use! Before I drop this bit of knowledge on you, lets talk about where it comes from first.
When couples fight, they often get mean with each other: blaming, criticism, definitive statements that degrade or demean a partner are all common among failing or troubled couples. However, among those who succeed at the highest rates are a different set of qualities during an argument: respect, interest in their partner, humor, openness to understanding and influence, and acknowledgments of their partner's point of voice. These are things "the Masters" (as Gottman researchers call them) do on a regular basis - and things that all successful relationships should strive to do.
Yeah, but how do I do that when my partner is being an ass?
Good question, random person who is definitely not me. People are assholes sometimes, it's a fact of life. Even the nicest people can get annoyed and frustrated and at their wit's end. However, these brief moments are not their whole person. I said this to my wife one time, when we were arguing - and it honestly helped a lot, "What the hell are we arguing about? None of this matters. I won't care about this tomorrow, will you? What does it matter who took the dog out last." At first, I'll admit, didn't help much, but it did make us chuckle - which lead to a resolution in our argument. It's difficult, but you have to remember your sense of self and identity. You are not your partner. This interaction is only one of many in your relationship, and the things that are being said and done right now have long term consequences.
That being said, it is easier said than done. One of the ways to gather enough resilience and strength to remember these things, and work toward giving respect, interest, humor, etc. in an argument is to remember this number/ratio:
That's simple enough, right? The 5:1 ratio is 5 Compliments / Positive Things to 1 Negative thing. This means that if you constantly communicate with your partner in positive ways, you can build up enough 'positivity' in your relationship thoughts to be able to handle some negativity. This will also build trust in your relationship - a core component of the Sound Relational House, or the crux of the Gottman Method.
Now, we could spend time breaking down what each of these components look like, but honestly I am fearful that many of have stopped reading at this point - so I will leave you with this general piece of advice, which could help you increase your positive to negative ratio...
Remember your partner.
Simple enough, but hard to do in the moment. Simply remember the good things, and positive experiences you've had together - not the current negative one. Somethings that help many of my clients when their are in the middle of an argument is to remember the first time they met, or a happy memory of a time they shared together, etc. Something that reconnects them with their partner, and puts them in a better frame of reference when interacting with them.
Give it a try, it could be fun! Remember to do something/say something/be something nice for your partner today.
Welcome to Dr. B's website!
On this site, you will find Dr. B's blog, information on how to book Dr. B for trainings, supervision, or therapy, his current research, and many educational materials!
Bookmark and check back often - and follow on social media to get the latest updates!