The Relationship Dance: Are you moving together?

If you’ve ever watched a couple dancing-either professionally or just for fun-you’ll probably notice some patterns. They move together at times, step apart at others, and each seem to know where to put feet, arms and legs at just the right time to the music.

Of course, there are dancers who misstep and even fall, but they usually get up and get right back into the routine of their dance.

Once you are in a love relationship for a period of time, you and your partner tend to fall into routines as well. A relationship dance can easily develop where each of you usually act and react in almost predictable ways during particular situations and around certain issues.

The relationship dance isn’t necessarily good or bad, but it can limit you and your mate when it comes to communicating and moving through difficult times. These ingrained dances might even stand in the way of you two staying open to one another

In the 7 years that Alisha and Mike have dated they’ve developed their own relationship dance. Whenever a conflict
arises, neither of them want to talk about it.

In fact, they do just about anything they can to avoid the issue. Their dance really comes into play in the bedroom. Mike tends to reach out wanting more sexual contact with Alisha when there is an unresolved conflict and Alisha would prefer not even sharing the same bed at these times let alone sharing intimacy.

A recent disagreement about whether or not Alisha’s teenage daughter (from a past marriage) could move in with them sent their dance into full play. This time, a simmering Alisha really did leave their bed to sleep in a guest room leaving Mike feeling rejected and even angrier. They still have yet to resolve their issue and disconnection just got deeper!

Recognize that it takes two…

As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” Yes, this is cliché but it is also oh so accurate. It is quite common when in the midst of a disagreement with your partner (or with anyone) to see the logic and rightness of “your side” of whatever the issue is.

Let’s face it, otherwise, there probably wouldn’t be a disagreement! When you are able to acknowledge that your attachment to the rightness of your position is part of the disconnect you can begin to turn the situation around. Softening-even just a little-around whatever it is that’s feeding the conflict will help.

To really see the routine you tend to follow when discomfort arises between you and your mate, you might need to take a step back. For the moment, focus in on how you usually act or react when you don’t agree with something your mate decides or says.

Try to look at your usual moves and emotions as if you were the proverbial ant on the wall. We are often unable to see habits that come almost automatically to us. Just noticing your part in the dance can make a big difference.

You can learn a new dance! Now that you’re more aware of how you usually act and react when conflicts arise, you can begin to learn new steps.

Together with your partner, you can even develop new dances that bring you close together. After their night of sleeping apart, Alisha realizes her part in the routine. She takes some time to be with her feelings about her daughter moving in and about sharing intimacy with Mike.

When Alisha sits down with Mike, she calmly and clearly communicates with him that she’d like to take a 6 month trial period just to see how her daughter moving in would feel to them all. She also apologizes to Mike for withholding sex as a way to demonstrate her anger.

As Alisha softens, opens and engages with the disagreement before them, it is easier for Mike to do the same. He thanks her for sharing this with him and asks her for some time so that he can consider her proposal and take a look at his role in their old dance. They plan to talk again the next day.

There will probably always be dances in your relationship. Those new dances may have aspects that bring your closer together and some that take you further apart.

Staying aware of your tendencies and being willing to make changes as you move along is key. So make it your intention to stay open to new steps that enhance connection and enjoy the love along the way!

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