This article originally was published at Your Tango.
What does it take to be a power couple?
Many scientists and practitioners over the years have talked about the major factors that enhance feelings of love and intimacy as well as those things that detract from positive functioning and interaction.
John Gottman, John Gray, Sue Johnson, and Harville Hendrix are just a few. How can couples become powerful in turning around and improving their relationships in new ways?
This is how a power couple turns their relationship around.
Couples going for therapy often begin by saying that the breakdown in their communication is the cause of their problems.
However, it turns out that the deteriorating state of their communication represents a symptom of a larger issue
Many therapists, counselors, and marriage coaches begin with teaching listening and communication skills to their clients.
Unfortunately, for many, the newfound ability to express their feelings to their partner directly and concisely creates increased emotional upset and complaints.
This sometimes causes them to feel further apart rather than closer together. They may even use communication as a club rather than a support.
One of the main barriers to clear communication is fear.
People often are not completely honest out of concern for hurting the other person or saying the thing that will cause their partner to end the relationship. If you’re afraid to be honest, it will be difficult to tell the complete truth.
To facilitate open and authentic interaction, another agreement is needed. What is necessary is an acknowledgment of commitment, not necessarily to the other person, but to the relationship.
When two people come together in a relationship, it’s no longer just about the needs of the two individuals, but also about the relationship itself.
In a good relationship, there are really three parts — you, me, and the relationship. That relationship or couple is more than the sum of the two individuals.
When you first fall in love, you’re often infatuated with just the other person. You’re in love with being in love. You love the idea of being in a couple. Then the couple becomes a third entity. It’s like your child. It needs care and love.
Here are the 4 C’s of couple power that shifts any relationship into overdrive.
In order to speak freely and openly with your partner, there must be a commitment to the relationship. There’s a higher calling, in some sense, to the entity of the couple itself.
A powerful couple starts with the commitment to the relationship, not just to the other. When this is present, the relationship as an entity with its own force and energy can take on problems, even those of the individuals involved.
Simply put, at this point, a relationship is not an ideal to be achieved or a place to get to. Rather, it’s a mindset. It’s a place to come from.
Once the commitment is present or, at least, imagined, a new way of communicating and action becomes available. The way you know that this is the case is the ability to act in unison as a couple to accomplish common goals.
Cooperation is a couple in action. Mostly, people think they are good at cooperating but, in fact, they’re not. Having people do what you want is not cooperation. That involves mutual agreements about how to proceed effectively.
Cooperation is not the same as compromise. Compromise means giving up something you want in order to get something else you want.
A negative circumstance at best. In cooperation, the possibility exists to find a way of acting and being that satisfies you both.
Doing what your partner wants can be seen, not as an obligation but rather as an opportunity to give them a gift, to be generous.
Couples have frequent occasions to cooperate in many ways. Couples say they cooperate best when the stakes are high, in an emergency, for instance, or when time is short.
Why that seems to happen is because the commitment to a result is high. Yet, the skills used in these cases also work when the task is smaller or less important.
Above all, good cooperation skills can be learned and can even be coached. When you accomplish something together, you feel the power of being a couple.
Although it’s important, it’s most effective when used at the right time. When cooperating, for instance, clear communication is essential. Each person needs to communicate clearly what they see from their vantage point to create an accurate picture.
It’s not about judging or being judged. You need to learn to listen closely and carefully to each other without being worried about how to respond.
Treat what you hear as information needed for the couple, not as an expression of liking or disliking the other person.
Tone of voice is important here, as it is often difficult to really attend to the other’s words if distracted by hidden meanings. Clear speaking and listening are essential.
The best rule is to listen first and speak second. These skills can be easily mastered when judgment is not present. Judgment can be handled by an agreement to not place yourself in a position to evaluate, just to listen.
We live in a very individualistic culture. People are taught to look at what is in it for them individually above all. Couples have different dynamics when operating as teams, even if supporting what one of you wants to do.
The community presents the opportunity to work together toward common goals with more people making it easier for everyone. But, truthfully, there are not many models in our society for communities.
People develop great couple relationships but do not know very many other couples like them. The community provides support to others like yourselves.
Some communities are “vertical,” made up of older or even younger generations, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or even children. Other communities are more horizontal, comprised of your own generation in your extended family, including siblings, and cousins.
These communities also include friends, neighbors, and colleagues at work.
Communities provide support for the idea that being in your relationship is powerful and talking about your relationship is valuable. Support from communities makes things easier.
But, communities may be difficult to find. Finding couple friends or meeting people in your community or place of worship may be a good way to feel support and understanding.
When communities of couples are present, it’s easier to talk about what’s happening than in just a conversation with an individual. Try discovering some communities or even creating them yourselves in your own neighborhood.
These four C’s of couple power can turn your relationship into a meaningful and fulfilling experience.