Relationship Workout begins with your commitment to relationship excellence.
As such, Relationship Workout assumes your goal is to have a sustainable, healthy relationship. You’re looking for lots of fun, laughter, sustainable great sex (I mean really great), peace, joy and growing love with someone special.
Of course, over the span of months and years every relationship will experience its share of ups and downs – no relationship can stay in honeymoon Hollywood movie bliss 365 days a year until death do us part.
For example, let’s say you’re a guy and your girlfriend insists you spend a Sunday afternoon attacking that man pile of chores she’s thought up for you all week. Meanwhile, you’ve already warmed up the couch for an afternoon of watching your favorite fantasy football players in action. What do you do?
Do you just concede to her, only to feel resentment the entire afternoon? Do you dig in your heals and battle it out over the same argument you two seem to have Sunday after Sunday? Does the argument escalate, bringing in other unresolved issues? Are you two able to resolve your differences by finding some sort of compromise that works for both of you? Do you wonder why you two seem so misaligned on what to do on Sundays in the first place?
Fundamentally, all relationships have issues. No two people can possibly be aligned on 100% of everything, 100% of the time. It’s impossible! As well, no one is perfect, so we’ll all make mistakes of some sort or another. You will make mistakes. She will make mistakes. Plus, ordinary life will bring unexpected twists and turns to your every day. Bottom line: you will have issues to deal with in your relationship. That’s a given. But how many issues are too many?
As John Gottman writes in Why Marriages Succeed or Fail:
‘That magic ratio is 5 to 1. In other words, as long as there is five times as much positive feelings and interaction between husband and wife as there is negative … the marriage was likely to be stable.”
Five positive feelings to each negative one creates on average a stable relationship. To help visualize this, in Figure 1-1 you’ll find the Relationship Gauge of Quality (RGQ) speedometer. The RGQ shows that a relationship can exist operating at various times at different levels marked by three distinct speeds: strong, average and weak. The higher the ratio of positive feelings and interactions (fun) to negative ones (drama), the stronger relationship you’re likely to have.
Having said this, a commitment to relationship excellence implies you’re not interested in settling for just a “stable” relationship. You want to have fun! You don’t want to just tolerate each other or find yourself miserable. In fact, a commitment to relationship excellence implies a desire to do even better than 5 to 1. Why not strive for a ratio of 10 to 1, or 100 to 1, or even 1,000 to 1?
To accomplish this, Relationship Workout will help you to achieve relationship excellence by getting you in stronger relationship shape, while helping you to identify a strong partner. Maximize the positive experiences. Minimize the negative ones.
So how do you get started? First, acknowledge we all have strengths and weaknesses that drive our strong and weak behavior.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Everyone brings strengths and weaknesses to the table. No stone throwers need apply. Ultimately, these strengths and weaknesses will likely drive the quality of your relationship. For instance, let’s say there’s a major difference of opinion on the table. It’s a real doozy; she really wants this and you really want that.
If you approach her like a boxer entering the ring, boxing gloves on looking to throw that knockout punch to have your point of view be victorious, then you’re very likely approaching the conversation from a place of relationship weakness. You talk over her – that’s weak. You get defensive as she shares her point of view – that’s weak too. You call her a bitch with angry spite – that’s extremely weak, regardless of what she’s throwing your way.
The point is if one or both of you approach a difficult conversation from a place of relationship weakness, the likely result achieved will be time consuming (and painful) negative drama.
On the other hand, if you both approach the conversation from a place of relationship strength, then you give yourselves a much higher likelihood the issue on the table can get resolved relatively quickly and without drama. You stay curious and let her talk so you can understand her point of view – that’s strong. You stay open to hearing where she thinks you’re wrong – that’s strong too (even if ultimately you don’t agree with her). At the end of the conversation you remind yourselves of the love you have for each other – that’s extremely strong, as it reconfirms feeling safe that differences in opinions won’t jeopardize the relationship.
Put simply, if the relationship strengths dominate the weaknesses, then positive, fun experiences may prevail, as you leave yourselves more time and desire to enjoy each other. On the other hand, if weaknesses dominate, then negative drama may become your drowning norm together.
To help identify these strengths and weaknesses, throughout the Relationship Workout Courses, I’ll describe the strong and weak approaches a person can deploy in each of the relationship core areas.
Likewise, the Relationship Workout Program helps you to identify in which core areas you’re stronger versus weaker, so you can gain insights on where to focus you attention.