Many of us have experienced romantic “falling in love” love. Consequently, many of us have experienced the bittersweet taste of the bloom fading off the rose. Many fall into the trap of thinking that the initial bloom is what defines true love.
Just recently, I attended a “Couples Conference” attended by hundreds of therapists. I came away inspired by the new “science of conscious partnering” and “relationships first” thinking that pervaded the conference.
Healthy relationships are characterized by:
- A commitment by both partners to put the relationship first. That means above individual desires.
- A commitment to create safety within the relationship, so both partners feel free to express their true selves.
- A commitment to respectful dialogue, which includes agreement to emphasize listening and empathy and to not to engage in put downs.
- A commitment to quick repair when one partner feels slighted or injured.
Several presenters at the Conference endorsed the idea of having to take a test as a requirement for a marriage license, similar to that of a driver’s license but, of course, emphasizing the skills required for a healthy relationship.
The potential benefits to society:
- Increased overall health.
- Significant reduction in violence and crime
- Significant reduction in substance abuse and addiction
- Significant reduction in poverty
Throughout history, our American culture has been dominated by a male dominated social hierarchy that has placed enormous emphasis on the role of the individual. The results have not been positive for the family, nor for society at large. Today, thanks to the Women’s Liberation movement of the 60’s and 70’s and new relationship science, couples are partnering in more egalitarian and satisfying ways.