The Rules in a Relationship: Building a Foundation for Success

The other morning, I was driving to the gym flipping through morning talk show stories to find actual music. Yes, I’m THAT person who doesn’t care about the talk, but just wants music to wake me up. On this particular morning, one segment caught my ear. A female listener was recently engaged. Her best friend, who lives out-of-town, was coming to visit and had never met her new fiancé. Apparently, an idea was concocted to have the best friend flirt or hit on the fiancé to test his reaction. My disclosure is that I only heard ten minutes of this segment and that I may not have received all the details of the story, nor do I actually know this woman or her family. What I gathered, from the part of the segment I heard, is that the majority of listeners did not agree with or condone this plan, and people wanted to know WHY one would test their partner in such a way.

couple back to back

The question now is not WHY would one want to test a partner, but what is the STORY behind this behavior? As a relationship and couple therapist, I don’t just look at the two people sitting in front of me. I look at the two people and the two different families that created each person. I also look at each person as a unique individual that (hopefully) developed his/her OWN beliefs in life. My question would be, “Does this relationship work for you both?” If so, you don’t have a problem. If not, then let’s look at how to make the relationship work for both of you. Couples can create rules in their relationship that others might not agree with or support. This is not a problem. The problem is when both people in the partnership do not agree. Continued use of behaviors that create tension can lead to many problems in a relationship, including but not limited to, loss or decrease of:

1. Sexual desire

2. Communication

3. Time spent together

4. Shared decision-making

5. Intimacy (not to be confused with sexual desire). The list could go on.

What one should take from this radio segment is not judging this couple before knowing the rules of their own relationship, whether you would incorporate this into your relationship or not. What one should think about is “Am I happy in MY relationship?”

holding.hands

 

Photo 1 Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net from the portfolio of “David Castillo Dominici”
Photo 2 Credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.net from the portfolio of “arztsamui”