“Too many couples spend more time planning their wedding than planning their marriage!”
-Dr. Adam Sheck
Do You Have A Shared Relationship Vision?
My quote above pertains to ALL committed relationships, whether your commitment is recognized by God, religion, the government, the IRS or whether you don’t even care about validation from an outside source. My point is, to be successful you need to not only have a relationship vision, but a SHARED relationship vision, one that both you and your partner have expressed and agreed upon.
One of the first assignments I give to couples that meet me for relationship counseling is to create this “shared relationship vision.” Let me explain why I do this and more specifically what I mean by a “shared relationship vision.”
We all have some ideas, some preconception, some notion of what kind of committed, romantic relationship we would like to have, whether the form looks like dating, co-habitation, marriage or some other path. These ideas have mainly been “implanted” into our unconscious by observing our primary caregivers (usually our parents), our extended family, our neighbors, our community, and of course, television and movies.
For “better or worse” we have this internalized vision, which is very related to what I’ve called in other articles and videos, the “Imago” which is Latin for “image.” The issue though, is that our intimate partner ALSO has an internalized vision of how they would like to live out their idealized relationship and the two relationship visions might not be entirely compatible!
Unfortunately, most couples do not share very much of their individual vision prior to making a commitment and only find out over time that there are some bumps in the road. That’s usually when they come to see me or another psychologist or couples counselor.
One of my first tasks then, is to have them create the previously mentioned “shared relationship vision” which will merge both of their ideas for how they would like to share their lives together in order to build a deep, lasting partnership.
It gives couples a kind of roadmap to help them assess whether they are “on course” in their relationship, so that they can put in the necessary correction. This is important, as we don’t really have a good internalized GPS system to help us course correct and get us where we want to be.
So until there is “an app for that” we have to do it the old-fashioned way. While the process is straightforward, it takes a little bit of time and effort (and often a third party, such as myself) to organize and create the shared relationship vision. That being said, if you’d like to try it on your own, the basic steps are as follows:
1. Each of you makes a separate list detailing YOUR vision of the relationship. Write it:
- In the present tense.
- In positive terms (what you want, not what you don’t want).
- Be specific!
- Use “We” statements
Examples might be:
“We go out one night each week without the children and enjoy a romantic dinner.”
“We resolve arguments by communicating clearly using the tools Dr. Sheck taught us.”
2. Write your list in all of the areas of relationship. This might include:
- Romance & Sexuality
- Emotional/Communication/Conflict resolution
3. Verbally share your relationship vision with your partner and then combine the lists into one master list, one “shared relationship vision.”
The third step is often the most challenging, as it may very well involve a great deal of negotiation. This is where a trained professional may be of great service.
Once the list is completed, you have the roadmap and can monitor how well you are creating the relationship vision you desire. And, the vision may change over time, it is a living, breathing document that will grow with you.
The bottom line is that if you don’t consciously create your relationship together, you leave it to chance or worse, to your unconscious, unresolved issues. You can’t control everything, but you can plan a roadmap and make conscious choices to head towards your destination together. To learn more about how we unconsciously select our partners, click here.
If I can be of further support in this area, please contact me. I wish you the best!
Dr. Adam Sheck
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If you believe how the relationship vision can improve your relationship and would like to find out how working with me through telephone or Skype might help even more, please click here to schedule a complimentary 20 minute, “Create A Better Relationship Now” session.