Meg Luce: Four balance points for successful relationships
Keeping your emotional balance means everything from avoiding road rage to calmly discussing finances, as well as having a vulnerable conversation about your sex life with your partner. Important? I think so.
Noted psychologist and sex therapist Dr. David Schnarch had some great ways to describe keeping calm and connected in relationships. Sadly, Dr. Schnarch passed away last year, but his transformative ideas live on. I, for one, regularly use some of his work with my clients and myself.
Dr. Schnarch named some of his powerful and steadying concepts, The Four Points of Balance. The Four Points of Balance offer a ton of guidance about keeping your balance in your relationships. Each point has something to offer, and it is worth wondering which ones you are good at and which could use some attention. Here they are:
First Point of Balance – Solid Flexible Self
A Solid Flexible Self is something to strive for. It means you know who you are; you are clear on what you think and feel. It means that you can hold onto your values and preferences even when your partner wants you to conform to their wishes. And you can be calm and collected while doing so.
The “flexible” part of the Solid Flexible Self means you are open to your partner’s influence. Rather than rigidly adhering to your position, if otherwise convinced, you can change your mind. The Solid Flexible Self will guide you in balancing “the you,” “the me,” and “the we” of being in a relationship.
Think about the many scenarios where having a Solid Sense of Self is essential. Speaking up for what you’re okay with and hearing out your partner is important, from choosing a vacation spot to dividing the housework and deciding what activities occur in the bedroom. A Solid Flexible Self will guide you in knowing what is okay for you and where you can stretch.
Second Point of Balance – Quiet Mind-Calm Heart
Quiet Mind-Calm Heart refers to the ability to calm your own anxieties. This doesn’t mean that you never go to your significant other for support with calming down. But being able to sometimes soothe yourself takes the pressure off of your partner to have to do it for you.
Having a good repertoire for Quiet Mind-Calm Heart is worth cultivating. Some people calm themselves with physical activities such as working out, running, or bicycling. Other people like meditative exercises such as yoga, Qigong, or mindfulness practice. There is an infinite number of ways to calm your anxieties. Whether it’s saying the Rosary, reading Tarot Cards, or listening to music, it’s worth the investment to figure out what works for you. There is a real sense of freedom if you can calm yourself, especially without having to pick up a beer or a bag of chips.
Third Point of Balance – Grounded Responding
Grounded Responding is when you can listen to another person calmly without becoming reactive, hostile, or shutting down. With Grounded Responding, you can steady yourself and give modulated responses while expressing yourself.
Grounded Responding comes in handy around the dinner table with your relatives with whom you strongly disagree. It is also convenient with your spouse while hearing out their complaints about your driving (ooh, tough one), your housekeeping, or politics.
Fourth Point of Balance – Meaningful Endurance
Schnarch says Meaningful Endurance is being able to “tolerate discomfort for the sake of growth.” Amen to that. Meaningful Endurance is the basis of self-mastery in all of our life accomplishments. It is a foundational aspect of successful relationships. How else can we hang in there with each other during the tough times?
Check your Four Points of Balance to thrive as a person and as a relational partner. Which one will you work on today?
Meg Luce, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Grass Valley specializing in helping couples create satisfying relationships. You can find her contact info at https://NevadaCountyTherapist.com
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