That guy I married and I are back in couples therapy. This time around it’s a totally different beast. We’re not doing that cliche “partners at each other’s throats/it’s all your fault/no, it’s all your fault” thing. Even our therapist is surprised at how calmly and nicely we communicate. Pssh. That’s what our first run through couples therapy was about.
The first time we did couples therapy we learned about non-violent communication. We learned that the things we think we’re doing to each other, are actually things we’re doing because that’s just what we’ve always done… for reasons. We learned about those reasons. We just basically learned to understand each other better, communicate with each other more efficiently, and take a more active role in being married. Then we stopped going when we realized we were just talking about the same things over and over. Things we had already figured out, and mastered.
Therefor we thought we had solved marriage! When really… we had just solved the first couple of marital puzzles: who we are together, and how to talk to each other.
Three years later, we realized that there was more puzzles we needed to solve: How do we grow up as individuals together? What happens when our life goals don’t meet up? And can we navigate “deal breakers” without breaking our deal?
Basically, we got our “now” figured out, but what does our future look like? Honestly, we don’t know yet. At this point in our lives — me in my early 30s, Aaron in his early 40s — we both have different views of what we want for right now and for our future.
So our therapist has us doing some “homework.” One of those things was to write out 10 brief statements describing our vision of a deeply satisfying relationship — including qualities we want to keep as well as ones we wish we had. And we gotta keep it positive and write in “we.”
I came up with eight things pretty easily, but I’m having difficulties coming up with two more. Sometimes blogging helps me pull thoughts out of my brain, so I thought I’d barf ’em out here and see if I can come up with all 10…
We maintain our independence without sacrificing our bond
We make each other laugh
We communicate openly and peacefully
We support each other when one of us is having a rough time
We have sex at least 2-3 times a week
We regularly do nice things for each other — favors, compliments, flirting — in order to show our affection
We continue to actively work on our marriage
We work on life goals together, either by working on them together, or supporting each other while we work on our own goals
We go on vacation together at least once a year
We rescue and care for dogs together
Now the thing is, Aaron and I can’t share our lists with each other until therapy time. I’m super curious to see what his list contains.
Which brings me to my question for you… what would YOU put on this list for your ideal relationships?