Step 1 and 2 are available in the blog archive to the right
If you are coming to this program for the first time and want to start engaging with it, then I strongly advise you to complete Step 1 and Step 2 before moving on to Step 3. Step 2 and Step 3 are interchangeable to a degree but you won’t have sustainable results if you skip Step 1. If you have already read and used Step 1 and 2 previously then thank you for engaging with it and thank you for continuing with the program. Step 3 is all about how the results that you have probably started to experience from the two previous steps can be integrated into your life in a sustainable way. As I have said previously these steps are not to be completed just once but are there to be used in your life ongoingly. You will experience over time that this new approach to communicating with your partner will become easier with use and after a while it will alter the way you live your lives together and this new way of communicating will just become normal and an effortless everyday experience . The steps can be approached after using them for the first time in a none linear way. You won’t need to go back to Step 1 again and start going through all of the steps if some difficulty arises in your lives. This approach will become clearer as you start using the Steps. Please remember that there is no magic happening here, any results caused will be a function of you using the program and integrating it into your lives.
If you have been using Step 1 and 2 then the fog of confusion and frustration that you may have been experiencing in your relationship will have started to lift and a new partnership will be forming. This Step looks at how to sustain any results that you have had and how to integrate it into your everyday life.
For those of you that are married or have a civil partnership, do you remember what you promised in your vows? You may have used the traditional vows of love, honour and obey but you will more than likely have written your own. What can happen and I’m sure generally does is that those vows are given some serious thought prior to the wedding but from the wedding day onwards we generally aren’t present to our vows save for the occasional use of them in attempting to get one up in an argument. I’ve been with my partner for 20 years now and we were married 17 years ago. I have no idea what we promised to each other when we were married and can’t say that I’ve given them a moments thought since that wonderful day. I know that at the time I was so connected to my commitment to love and nurture my wife that the vows didn’t seem important. They were just words. But how long is that promise really alive for us?
Vows aren’t generally made within the context that they were created. A vow is an agreement between people or a promise or pledge but certainly how my wife and I saw our vows was more of an acknowledgement of each other that created a lovely feeling and brought us closer, not a binding agreement. When was the last time that you asked your partner how the vows were going for them or even asked how the relationship was going?
What I have witnessed is missing from relationships where communication has broken down is a stated commitment to each other. Literally a context for the relationship inside of which all conversations and actions take place. So what do I mean by this? Below is a great quote and although he is talking here about companies I think relevant to relationships.
“There’s a difference between a brand promise and a brand commitment. It’s easy to promise. It’s hard to commit.” – Greg Cordell, Chief Inspiration Officer, Brains on Fire
What I think Greg Cordell is getting at here is that it’s easy to make a promise and to break that promise, ‘I promise to give up smoking’ is a common one that we have all heard and seen flounder or ‘I promise that I will never do that again’ A commitment however is a call to action. The promise to give up smoking is much more powerful a statement and ultimately more sustainable inside of a commitment. If you state ‘I am committed to a long fit and healthy life’ then smoking can’t really exist inside of this commitment. Not that someone’s smoking habit is going to magically disappear by stating this commitment but if it is linked to this bigger context for a healthy life then it will have a greater chance of success. So what has this got to do with relationships? Let me give you an example from my life.
What really worked for my relationship is that my wife and I would schedule in time away from the family to talk about our relationship. We don’t need to do that so often now as we have these conversations ongoingly. We would go out together for a drink or a meal or just out walking together and if you had been a witness to our conversations you would probably have thought that we were on the verge of breaking up because we would speak openly with no holds bard. How the conversation used to go is that we would check in with each other how it was all going. Literally I would ask or she would ask the question ‘how is the marriage going’ then one of us would outpour about everything that was working and wasn’t working about our partnership. We had already agreed how to manage these conversations and the structure that we thought would best work and they were completed because of our love for each other and our commitment to our marriage working for both of us. We were then inspired to restate or state anew our commitment to each other. So let’s say that we made a commitment to have a fun, safe, joyful and loving family home. Living inside of that commitment every conversation and action can be assessed. I know that I can’t be rude and uncaring if I am living from that commitment and likewise for my partner. If a conversation isn’t coming from that commitment then it will show up starkly and then it can be dealt with.
So how do we make this commitment and have it present in our lives? The first thing to do-remembering that here you have already completed step 1 and 2 of the program- is to talk together and get creative. Really get in touch with what inspires both of you in your life together. Don’t be too concerned about how to make it happen at the moment but be free to dream of the life that you both would love. If what comes up is resistance from either of you to this process, maybe some bitterness about ‘how can we possibly have this’ because of past behaviour then go back to step 1 and make sure that it’s complete for both of you. Remember here that you’re not looking at the actions that may be required but just creating a commitment to each other. Don’t make it too complicated! It can be created with a few words, love, joy, fun, nurture. The pull will be to come up with something that is created from the restrictions of how the relationship has gone in the past. This will limit how you will see the future. This is now new, so as far as you can, create without a concern for what has happened in the relationship previously. The predictable state of a human being is to be resigned saying ‘it can’t possibly work because ……’ or ‘you don’t know my partner, they will never stick to anything’ or ‘we are just too busy and exhausted to make time for this' or some version of these. If you want to keep the relationship the way it currently is then go ahead and be resigned, if you want something different, something inspiring, a relationship that you never dreamed was possible then what is required is for you to give up your resistance and CREATE something new!
Now write it down as it will disappear from memory quicker than you created it. Put it somewhere visible so that you keep present to it daily. After a while you won’t need to write It down to remind yourself because it will become simply the way you live your lives together. In my relationship with my wife if one of us was being an arse for more than a moment or two it would occur like the film Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers where an alien presence has taken one of us over!
You may be asking at this point ‘how is it going to be possible to sustain this’ Well again there is no magic that is suddenly going to change your relationship. It will require you being present to all of your communications and how you and your partner are acting and reacting in the relationship. You will make mistakes, you will probably get angry, it will probably occur like the relationship is worse at first because those communications and behaviours that before were just the way you communicated will now be highly visible. Stick with it as the rewards are immense. It’s going to require both of you to stop scoring points with tit for tat ‘I was right, you were wrong’ position taking. Not easy but so possible. If you notice that you have ‘fallen off the wagon’ then clean up the mess with each other and re commit to your future. Everything can be resolved by openly and lovingly talking and listening.
What really works to keep the commitment alive is to schedule in time to sit and talk to each other about what is working and what’s not working. Don’t just think that a five minute chat over breakfast or meeting each other by the front door conversation will sustain it. It almost certainly won’t. What will work is weekly or two weekly scheduled dates were you can sit down in a relaxed atmosphere and talk. Put agreements in place were you both decide the structure of these sessions. Agreements like no raised voices, no rude interruptions, no point scoring, being civil at all times etc. Think about how the interactions may go wrong, what would trigger both of you and put in some agreement that will help with that situation. The mistake that I’ve seen happen with some couples is that they schedule the first month and get some benefit from it but then they let it slip and it can become forgotten. This part of the program is vital! Schedule in dates as far in advance as possible. You can always re schedule those dates if some other commitment comes up but put the dates in your diary immediately!
The actions to take are:
a) Complete Steps 1 and 2 of the program.
b) Schedule an initial session to create your future together.
c) Be inventive without a concern for how this will work
d) Schedule in time for future dates as far in advance as possible.
Step 4 will be looking at how to rekindle love, romance and fun in your relationship.