Sunday, December 02, 2007

In Adult Loving Relationships, Each Partner’s “Life Style Congruence” is Very Important

As I have mentioned previously, a good friend and colleague, Dr. William Lambos, and I currently are writing, under contract from Nova Science Publishers, the 2nd Edition of my 1997 self-help book, Adult Loving Relationships. Over the past few days, we have been working on Chapter 26, “Life Styles,” and in it we talk about the importance of “maintaining compatibility between a couple’s shared lifestyle and each partner’s individual lifestyle, a concept we refer to as life style congruence.” We later say, “It is hard to overestimate the importance of this aspect of relationships. When the demands of one or both partners’ separate life styles negatively impact the couple’s ability to enjoy a shared life style, the relationship will suffer.” With examples from our private practices, Bill and I not only anchor these phenomena but also offer suggestions and recommendations for improving the extent to which an individual’s personal lifestyle can enhance, rather than detract from, his or her relationship lifestyle.

If you read My Sweetpea: Seven Years and Seven Days, my first contemporary romance novel, you undoubtedly recall that as Sheila and Troy’s marriage continued to fall apart, their individual lifestyles became more and more “individual” (and more self-focused) and eventually their “relationship lifestyle” become nonexistent.

On many occasions I have said to couples I was seeing in couples- or marital-therapy, “It is important for each of you to have your own 'individual lifestyle' – it is important for each of you to have, to some extent, an opportunity to do your own thing. Nonetheless, it is equally important to make sure that your own lifestyles do not interfere with your relationship lifestyle.”

Question: What kinds of things do you do to make sure that your individual lifestyle does not interfere with your relationship lifestyle?



Anonymous said...

Communicate, communicate, communicate. That is the main thing my wife and I do to make sure what we do separately does not interfere with our relationship. We have so many things going on - work, kids, church, family, house, sports, friends, etc. - that without good communication we would constantly get in each other's way. When we do double book ourselves it usually does lead to some type of conflict. But we always try to make sure we don't go to bed mad. By addressing a problem and not letting it linger to the next day or week, we usually avoid the "big" arguements.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Maconole,

Thanks for your typically poignant sharing – it indeed appears that you and your wife are wedded to the three Cs – communicate, communicate, communicate. Avoiding conflicts, as well as the big arguments, is certainly critical in maintaining a happy and loving marriage. And sometimes even when people’s intentions are sterling, without communication plans can go awry.

A few years ago (when I was married), on a Thursday before a non-work Friday I discovered a wonderful deal – three days and two nights, meals included, in a beach-front suite for a ridiculously low price. And even though it was non-refundable, I locked it in with my credit card. That same afternoon, my wife locked in a twp-day, one-night cruise on a large sailboat at a ridiculously low price. When I got home from work that Thursday afternoon, we both said, “Wow, do I have a surprise for you!” Yeah, it was a surprise alright. From that point on we agreed that neither of us would spend over $50 nor schedule anything from Friday night to Sunday night without talking with the other person first. It removed numerous romantic possibilities, but it also avoided numerous similar kinds of situations down the road (not to mention the monetary issues involved).

Agreeing on boundaries and communicating – not asking for permission but simply communicating – is “priceless.”

Thanks again for the visit and terrific Comment.

‘til next time,