Friday, December 08, 2006


What Does a Relationship Mean To You?

In other articles we have discussed values and visions. Values can be described as something that is important to you. It is something that you are willing to focus on, and put attention and time into in order to maintain. A vision is what a person targets as a focus and future goal to move towards. It can be a way of life, a specific goal, a timeline or anything that moves a person towards something and causes a person to focus concentrated energy on.

One of the results of having different values and visions and not being aware of them is powerstruggles.

It has recently been brought to our attention that there is a surprisingly hidden value struggle wrapped up in the definition of “relationship”.

To explain we recently had a couple in for relationship counselling at our centre, who we will call Rachel and Ray. We discovered that they had different definations of what a relationship is and what the purpose of a relationship is.

For Ray, he believes that relationships is all about function, meaning that relationships are all about doing, getting things done and achieving goals. Rachel on the other hand believes that relationships are all about connecting, sharing thoughts and ideas and sharing past experiences.

An ideal day and evening of relating for Ray in a relationship would be Rachel going off his lead having a productive day of achieving tasks and accomplishing goals. The goal is always about function.

For Rachel, an ideal day would be connecting intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. It didn’t matter if they are doing anything or if anything got done, it is all about sharing thoughts and ideas and how each other are feeling.

Rachel found that when following Ray’s lead doing and accomplishing tasks 24/7, that by the end of the day, she would be asking is that all there is? She would also feel empty and disconnected from Ray.

On days when Ray would take Rachel’s lead and have conversations with her instead of doing tasks, he would feel unproductive and feel like Rachel wasn’t interested in having a functional relationship or having the relationship move forward.

To anyone reading this that is aware of values, visions, personalities and communication modes, you may say well what is going on in their relationship is a result of the unique combination of each individual. However, when we actually asked Ray and Rachel what their definition of a relationship was, Ray said it was based on function and Rachel said that relationships are all about connecting, sharing thoughts and ideas and sharing past experiences.

So if these are two different people with two different meanings of what a relationship is, you may wonder are there more definitions?
The following are some common definitions of relationships that we have discovered.

1) RELATIONSHIP IS ABOUT SURVIVAL: As we discussed, this is what Ray believes. A relationship is about pooling resources in order to survive and function. It doesn’t matter of you get along as long as it doesn’t interfere with surviving successfully. We suspect that this is one of the oldest definitions and stems from when life was a harsher environment to survive in, so pooling resources is you best chance of survival. We suspect this mindset is why marriages in the old days lasted so long and divorces were not so common. The focus was on survival and procreation and not on getting other areas of the relationship fulfilled.

2) RELATIONSHIP IS ABOUT LEARNING AND EXPANSION: People with this definition believe that a relationship is an opportunity to expand themselves and their consciousness.

3) SAFETY AND SECURITY: People with this mindset believe that a relationship is a place of refuge, a place to feel safe and protected from the rest of the world.

4) RELATIONSHIPS ARE FOR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT: People who believe in this definition believe that a relationship is a place to feel supported and express one’s feelings and experiences such as in Rachel’s case.

Do any of these definitions sound like your own? Do you know what your partner’s definition is?

Finding out what your definition and your partner’s definition of a relationship, (whether it is from the definitions above or another unique definition,) is important to help uncover possible hidden powerstruggles.

For Rachel and Ray, it was an eye opening experience that assisted them in discovering why they were resisting each other so much and lead them on the road towards accepting and appreciating each others’ definition of relationships.

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