“We are each angels with only one wing. And we can only fly by embracing each other.”
– Luciano de Crescenzo –
Most everyone experiencing difficulties in their relationship says that poor communication is the problem and that learning how to communicate better will be the solution. Once you are able to speak more honestly, however, what is communicated may not be helpful. In fact, you may just learn to communicate more clearly what is wrong and what your complaints are, which often makes things worse.
Communication does not, in and of itself, solve the problem. Other factors must also be considered. Communication and self-help training are in many ways like a diet; they may have a short term positive outcome, but the effects don’t last long. After a while, you may be back where you started. Good communication is part of a good relationship but it is not enough to make a relationship great. It is something to learn and practice to keep the relationship growing.
So, what else besides good communication is needed?
The Four C’s
Over more than 40 years of working with people in relationships and being married ourselves for 43 years, we have created a developmental model that highlights four requirements for a powerful and effective marriage. We call this the Four C’s of Couple Power.™ This model presents a matrix of tasks that has a built-in lasting effect on a relationship.
The Four C’s are the key areas to attend to. They are not just things to do, but they are a mix of attitudes to embrace and practices to follow throughout your whole marriage. Like brushing your teeth to prevent tooth decay, practicing the Four C’s prevents marriage decay.
These areas include: Commitment, Cooperation, Communication & Community.
Commitment involves you and your partner creating a powerful joint vision for the future you want to have together. It is based on what is possible, not what is wrong. You create a commitment to your couple as a unit, more than a commitment to the individual. Individuals will change over time; the joint commitment to your couple remains steadfast no matter what. The next three C’s help you maintain this commitment.
Cooperation is based on learning how to operate as a powerful team, one that goes beyond meeting each other’s needs but meeting the needs of your couple as an entity. We all may think we are good at cooperating but we really are not. We want it our way. Being able to work together on a project for a common goal takes practice along with a strong commitment and good communication.
Communication involves learning a special kind of speaking and listening that comes from a commitment to be together and reaching a common goal. This is most effective only after you are clear that you are not just committed to each other, but to the relationship. You need to love not just the other person. You need to love your marriage, who you are together.
Once a commitment is established and cooperation skills are learned, communication makes everything possible. There are many communication skills and techniques available, including in our book Lifelong Love.
Even with these three C’s operating, there is still one more aspect of maintaining a great relationship that is necessary, the fourth C of Couple Power.
The fourth C, Community, is about being part of a group of couples who mutually support each other’s vision of a fulfilling marriage. One of the consequences of living in a world that emphasizes individual achievement and happiness is that couples usually find little or no support for their couple marriage as a whole. There is much support for parenting and career concerns but little for keeping a relationship healthy.
Partners are often primarily encouraged by family, friends and therapists alike to “make sure your own needs are met,” often leading to the dissolution rather than the nurturance of the couple and a great relationship. With those kinds of friends, couples don’t need enemies!
While it is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, we have found that it also takes a village or community to raise and support a couple’s relationship. This realization is what led us along with other couples to create a national organization 25 years ago called Couples Coaching Couples with groups around the country meeting regularly to foster a community for the support of couples. You might want to check it out through the website.
What Can You Do If You Want A Truly Great Relationship?
First, know that the 4 areas have a cumulative effect. In other words, they build upon each other and invigorate the other C’s so that each one performs better with the others solidly in place. The 4 C’s are also interrelated such that when one falls down or has a challenge, the others help build them back up. By building your 4 C’s, you are effectively creating a safety net for your relationship.
The 4 C’s are the bedrock of a lasting, joyful, and profoundly fulfilling relationship.
A great relationship isn’t something you just fall into like falling in love. It is something to be invented and nurtured by the two of you for the length of your relationship. You will come to live by the motto: we love our relationship and will work on it because when it’s at its best, it can do anything. Not only are we committed to each other, but we are also committed to the relationship. We know we are stronger together.
The behaviors and techniques required to learn and maintain the Four C’s are presented in our book Lifelong Love and through Couple Power™ workshops and consultations. We can help you with coaching and support. Contact us today.
For More Information Contact Us at:
421 Park Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Tel: (434) 971-4701