One of the first things I ask couples to do when they come to the office is to create a Relationship Vision. If their relationship worked out just the way they wanted, what would it look like? Even couples who are conflicted know what they want. I have each partner write statements beginning with we, in the present tense (even though it is a vision for their future) and positive of what their ideal relationship might look like. Not what it is now, but what they want in the future.
Couples Relationship Agenda
Generally couples have some similarities in their agendas, although the wording might be different. I then encourage them to combine their two visions and make a good copy they can put in a place where they can read it every day. They are really re-programming their unconscious.
In the past I left it at that.
Bringing the Relationship Vision to the Forefront
Recently I have moved the Relationship Vision to the front of the room (so to speak). It becomes the agenda of our work together. The couple are the ones who created their Relationship Vision – my job then becomes holding their feet to the fire. What are you doing to get there? Because if they don’t do anything different nothing will change.
Holding Yourself Accountable
Alfred Adler years ago coined the phrase – it is not what you possess but how you use it. I always use the example of Terry Fox, the young Canadian who lost a leg to cancer and decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. That was 40 years ago now and The Terry Fox Marathon of Hope Foundation has raised something like 80 million dollars. Another young man could have the same affliction and complain that life is not fair. They both possess the same thing but use it quite differently.
Just as Terry Fox could not change the cancer or the loss of his leg, so the couple in front of me can’t change anything that has happened to date, but what they do with that from here forward, they have more choice over. Their Relationship Vision gives them the goal (Terry Fox’s goal – run across Canada) now my job is to hold them accountable. What did you do this week to move you in that direction?
A More Realistic Relationship Agenda
It shifts the Relationship Vision from just being a dream to a more realistic agenda.
We communicate better – becomes, we used the dialogue process two times
and We are happy – becomes, we went on a date night
We are great parents – becomes, we started reading Giving the Love That Heals A Guide for Parents or Children the Challenge.
The couple’s Relationship Vision then becomes a real part of the agenda of our time together. Working through the book Getting the Love You Want is another part of that agenda, for sure and it gives couples a bigger picture of what they are trying to accomplish, but holding a couple accountable to what they have said they want, challenges couples to be more pro-active.