“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” –Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Working with couples is always interesting. Two unique individuals cannot spend a significant amount of time together without bumping into each other from time to time. There are bound to be disagreements or arguments, but how they are dealt with can make the difference between a healthy relationship and a rocky one. One of the things I often see is that the partners are sailing in two different directions. When couples are stuck, it is because they are not able to communicate clearly the destination that they are working towards. The relation-ship becomes divided and mutiny abounds. Whether it is because they have not clearly decided on the ship’s destination or that they have envisioned different docks without communicating where they are going, trouble looms when all hands are not on deck. By the time they come to my office, some partners have already boarded the lifeboat and are ready to set sail in their own direction. In order to work out disagreements, both partners need to get on board the ship and decide the direction it is heading. When they agree on the port, it becomes much easier to steer the ship and navigate through rough waters.
In order for couples to get onboard a unified relation-ship they need a clear vision of what their goals are. Do they want to save for a house in the country or rent a condo in the city? Do they want to have a large family or only pets? Do they want to take vacations to Europe or go camping in an RV for the summer? When couples share common goals the destination is set and they can help each other navigate when they start to drift off course. Having a common destination does not mean that each partner can’t take their own excursions. It is critical for each partner to have their own hobbies, friends and interests, but they return to their home base, together. One partner’s excursion is no more important than the partner’s. In a family, everyone’s needs are equally important and no one sacrifices their own needs for the other. Needs can be negotiated and compromised, but there is always give and take in order to provide balance. When everyone is on board and working together, it is smooth sailing and you can reach the destination with much less stress. Take a moment to assess the crew on your current relation-ship. Is the navigation on course? If not, take some time to re-assess and verify that you are both heading for the same destination.