Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Published in the Premier Issue of

Natural Nutmeg, Connecticut’s Resource for a Healthy, Active, Sustainable Lifestyle… Naturally

October 2010

Enrich Your Relationships by Candace Brindley

Who would we be without the joy and drama of our love relationships! Healthy relationships give our lives richness and meaning and allow us to self-correct, heal and grow. Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, our relationships challenge us. As the divorce rate indicates, our old practices of dating and mating are failing us. While we diligently seek out education and training for all our worthwhile endeavors, no training exists that supports relationships. What we learn instead is how to be ‘miserable ever after’, based on behavior modeled by our parents and relatives. In this column I will be offering a new skill set -- relationship knowledge, tips, tools and techniques for singles and couples which I invite you to experiment with and possibly add to your own relationship toolkit.

My own son’s beautiful wedding in Bermuda recently inspired a rush of insights on romance and the challenge of finding the ideal partner. Since singles become couples, laying the groundwork for success while single clearly presents the golden opportunity to custom pick your perfect match.

It’s interesting that more people are single now than ever before in history, partly because there’s less of a social and/or economic need to get married today. When we do decide to commit, we choose people who we believe will fulfill our need for security, love and emotional support. This is a loaded expectation for which we all need special training.

The training kicks off with dating. There are two types of dating, recreational and intentional. Early ‘recreational’ dating should be viewed as a learning laboratory; a fun chance to learn how to date, where to meet lots of different people, and to notice how you feel with different kinds of people.

Intentional dating, or setting the ‘intention’ to find one’s life partner, is very different and deserves introspection and planning. Before you begin, take time to discover your personal vision and purpose, establish your core values, and decide what your absolute requirements are. Establishing your individual and shared visions is such an important part of the equation that Dr. John Gottman, a world renowned relationship expert, maintains that when couples’ visions are not aligned, they have a 69% greater chance of relationship failure.

While dating, be aware that it’s easy to fall into any one of many traps that will derail your search, resulting in not only lost time, but also hurt and resentful feelings. One of the most common of these traps is known as the ‘Mini-Marriage’ or ‘the one night stand that never left.’ Chemistry takes over, placing a lock hold on your thinking, and without making any conscious decisions or verbal agreements, you slide into an exclusive relationship. Shoes appear under the bed and toiletries show up in the bathroom. Rushing into a relationship relying on this chemical cocktail of infatuation, more often than not, results in an abrupt ending without explanation. After all, you didn’t really know that person, did you? We fall into this trap when we are desperate to be in a relationship… any relationship, and believe that we can force it into being the right one for us.

When we balance our heads with our hearts, we slow down and date a variety of people, having fun without being exclusive. We take plenty of time to test the relationship. You may also find that journaling after your dates helps keep your head clear and slows down the rush to become a couple. If the relationship is meant to be, it will survive the time it takes to measure it against all of your personal criteria. Dating is not a race - it is a journey. Don’t rush to win the booby prize.

Make sure you are the ‘chooser’ when you date, and don’t abdicate who you are at the core. I like to use a Readiness Assessment for Singles, when I coach, that targets all the key areas to address before embarking on the dating journey. To get started, you can ask yourself, “Would I date me?” This exploration is actually very empowering, profound, and even fun to do. Again, the key areas to probe include a full description of your life including your vision, values, life purpose, your requirements, needs, and wants. When you are fully aware of who you are and what you want for your future, you will choose partners with whom you will enjoy a lifetime of love, friendship and respect. Finding someone whose vision and values are compatible with your own is a great harbinger for relationship success.

In my next column, I plan to discuss why so many relationships begin with such deep passion and feelings of connection only to fizzle out in a few years time and how we can prevent that from happening to us.

Certified Master Relationship Coach Candace Brindley coaches singles and couples to find and create the relationships of their dreams. Motivated by her desire to reverse the trend toward relationship failure and family break-up, Candace coaches using current research and skills, giving her clients a fresh and intelligent approach to partnering.

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