Lifelong Love

Creating and Maintaining an Extraordinary Relationship

Real Couple, Real Progress: Part 7 Couple in Community

Create family rituals and traditions to support your couple during the holidays

At this time of the holidays, it is timely to be addressing the Fourth C of Lifelong Love, Community.  Our Contest winning couple, Elizabeth and Brian, is up to speed, having completed their last assignment in the area of Communication, the third C.  In that assignment, they were asked to use the term “we” whenever they would normally use “I” or “me” for one full day.  (Try it.  You will find that it’s a lot harder than it sounds but quite illuminating.)  Elizabeth discovered that when she would say, “We need to get this handled,” Brian felt like she was telling him what to do.  Now that they are more familiar with using the term “we,” it makes them “feel like more of a team,” they said.

Elizabeth and Brian also did the “Clearing It Up” exercise in Lifelong Love (pp. 129-130) and had their own unique experiences with it. Brian said he “felt lighter” after sharing something that was bothering him since they were first dating. Elizabeth didn’t feel resolved just sharing her feelings during the exercise, so they talked more about the situation and made “a plan for change,” she said. They worked on her feelings of having to repeat herself often to Brian about closing doors and other minor things. It seems that they felt more resolved when Brian agreed to work on remembering to handle those things. In our experience, doing this exercise encourages people to be more trusting and open about communicating their feelings, which may lead to opportunities to explore and create solutions to their concerns.

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Our next assignment is directed towards exploring the power of Couple in the Fourth C of Community. In our book, we describe two types of community, vertical and horizontal. Vertical refers to family relations across generations; horizontal refers to community with people around you that you find or create. The current assignment involves the vertical community. We have asked Elizabeth and Brian to complete the following assignment:

Do the Exercise: “Remembering Family Rituals and Traditions” (pp. 151-2). In your discussion, include looking at the family values that you have adopted or want to create for your couple and family. If possible, include your extended family in your inquiry, either by phone or in person. 

This seems like a perfect focus for the holidays when we often spend time with our vertical community. It is a time when we remember valued traditions and have the opportunity to create new ones as couple. For example, one couple we know argued every year about whose family they would be with for the holidays. After several years of this, they devised a new plan to invite both of their families to spend the holiday with them and their young children. This started a new tradition which they follow to this day. 

You may want to do the exercise described above and see what you discover about your own vertical community. Have fun with it and enjoy the holidays!

Phyllis R. Koch-Sheras, Ph.D. is an author and a practicing clinical psychologist in Charlottesville, Virginia specializing in working with couples, dreams, and psychotherapy with adults. Peter L. Sheras, Ph.D. more...

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