Often when I begin work with a couple and I ask them what sort of “vision” they have for their relationship — where they want it to be in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 25 years — they generally can’t give a throughtful answer. Simply, they haven’t really thought about their relationship and what they would like it to become in the future. And, they don’t know how to begin getting that “relationship vision” in focus nor use it as a tool to keep them guided toward a shared image of their married life.
Here is a helpful tool for a couple to use that gets them to think about and create a unique “relationship vision” for their future. I always recommend that a couple review this activity annually, maybe around the time of year that they celebrate their wedding anniversary, as a way to make sure that they are working together in the same direction toward the same goals. And if any goals need to be clarified or modified that can be done during a review session.
So, grab your partner and begin!!!
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Purpose: This exercise will help you see the potential in your relationship.
Comments: Do this exercise together.
1. Take out two sheets of paper, one for each of you. Working separately, write a series of short sentences that describe your personal vision of a deeply satisfying love relationship. Include qualities you already have that you want to keep and qualities you wish you had. Write a sentence in the present tense, as if it were already happening. For example: “We have fun together,” “We have great sex,” “We are good parents,” “We are patient with each other.” Make all your items positive statements. For example, write “We settle out differences peacefully” rather than” We don’t fight.” Share your sentences.
2. Note the items that you have in common and underline them. (It doesn’t matter if you have used different words, as long as the general idea is the same.) If your partner has written sentences that you agree with but did not think of yourself, add them to your list. For the moment, ignore items that are not shared.
3. Now turn to your own expanded list and rank each sentence (including the ones that are not shared) with a number from 1 to 5 according to its importance to you, with 1 indicating “very important” and 5 indicating “not so important.”
4. Circle the two items that are most important to you.
5. Put a star beside any items that you think would be difficult for the two of you to achieve.
6. Now work together to design a mutual relationship vision similar to the following example. Start with the items that you both agree would be difficult to achieve. At the bottom of the list write the items that are relatively unimportant. If you have items that are a source of conflict between you, see if you can come up with a compromise statement that satisfies both of you. If not, leave the item off of your combined list.
See the example below of a relationship vision.
How did this excercise help you and your partner develop a shared relationship vision?
Did you learn anything about each other that surprised you?
Adapted from: Hendrix H. (1988). Getting the Love You Want: The Guide for Couples. Harper Perennial.