Guidelines for Couples

Practice Pointers for Couples

1. Intimacy is Always the Goal.

While safety and self-respect are very important, intimacy – mutual and authentic contact – should never stop being your goal, even when present circumstances dictate other choices. Your spouse can behalf badly and disappoint. But he can also grow and change. When a breach occurs, always stay open to the possibility of intimate re-engagement.

2.  Intimacy First, Then Getting Things Done.

In relationship the goal is (1) to be fully relational, and (2) to accomplish your purposes. In “real world” relationships, the second goal is the primary, though never the sole focus. With your closest people, however, intimacy comes first. Hold outcomes lightly, knowing that either choice – his or yours – will almost always be acceptable. And when it isn’t, don’t rush to judgment. Instead, patiently explore the underlying emotions. This will often lead a third way that, instead of tearing the fabric of your intimacy, reaffirms it.

3.  Tend to the Relationship’s Special Music.

Music happens when the resonance, a feeling of familiarity and trust, an indefinable knowing that “just is.” At its best, it includes a persistent spark of pleasure that includes (but isn’t limited to) sexual attraction. This person is your intimate companions in life precisely because this special music exists. Without it, your intimacy will wither. Do all you can – in your day-by-day choices – to sustain and deepen it.

4.  Claiming.

Love is a leap of faith. You say, and fully believe, “forever” and “until death do us part.” But even these most intimate relationships can rupture or fall apart. Making this leap of faith is, nevertheless, vitally important. Life is tough. In the end, we live and die alone. Faced with this unforgiving reality, fiercely claiming – you of him, him of you – is one of life’s most powerful and sustaining places of surcease.

5.  Shared Values.

Share your values. Fully explore, for example, how important work is as compared to being a hands-on parent. And, differences will arise. When they do, they’ll be manageable – if they’re forthrightly acknowledged, discussed, and negotiated. Minimized or glossed over, the day by day choices that you and your intimate partners make are far more likely to result in feelings of disappointment or betrayal.

5.  Trust.

Because you depend so much on one another, the importance of trust is greatly magnified with your spouse. And, given your differing needs and aspirations, negotiations will, at times, be difficult. But when trust is eroded – even in seemingly unimportant ways – this task is vastly more difficult. So be both factually and emotionally honest; understanding, however, that is does not mean sharing every fact and feeling. The goal, instead, is to honor the “no surprise” rule: If you don’t disclose, and your spouse finds out, she won’t be shocked or shaken.

6.  A Priority Focus on the Relationship.

Make your well being, his well being, and the relationship’s health your unwavering priority. But, note, this only work when each partner is also attending to the other 6 guidelines, set forth above. When they are, you’ll be there when he needs you – fully having his back – knowing that: If she says its important, it is; supporting her will not compromise your integrity (Special Consideration #5, Shared Values); and, even in this moment, she’ll be considerate of your needs and aspirations as well.