*FREE* Pre-Engagement Counseling E-course- 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Get Married, Installment #2
In the last installment of our *FREE* Pre-Engagement Counseling E-course 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Get Married, you learned how to develop realistic expectations about your relationship, understanding the inevitably of conflict and its growth potential. In this installment of the *FREE* Pre-Engagement Counseling E-course we will discuss the 2nd thing you need to know before you get married, your relationship style.
Pre-Engagement Counseling E-course Lesson #2 Your Relationship Style
As a general rule, energy expands outwards or contracts inward. We find, in relationships, that couples complement each other. In order for the relationship to be balanced and whole, there is always one who is maximizing energy outward and one who is minimizing inward. (Please note that the purpose of these terms is not to label people or shame them; rather, they are a description of the way our energy is expressed in our relationship.) While women are usually the maximizers/hailstorms and men are the minimizers/turtles, this changes, depending upon the context. For example, a woman might be a maximizer with her husband but a minimizer with her mother. In addition, although each person has his or her own natural response, we typically function in opposition to our partners. That means that, even if both husband and wife are minimizers, in their relationship to each other, one will play the role of the maximizer.
Where do you go to get safe?
This is another important pre-engagement counseling concept. Why is it so significant to understand this concept? Our expression of energy can be very unsafe for our spouse. When a hailstorm feels threatened, she tends to expand her energy outward, magnifying everything in a crisis. On the other hand, a threatened turtle holds in or tones down his energy, defending himself or retreating into his shell. When we were younger, we learned how to respond to stress or discomfort by reacting in one of these two manners. While this kept us safe as a child, it does not serve us well in a mature, intimate relationship.
The reason why it is no longer helpful is that the very way we get safe is what triggers our partner. The threatened hailstorm, who pushes her energy outward and creates a big drama, forces our turtle to feel unsafe and to retreat deeper in to his shell, which then provokes more of a threat and more drama from the hailstorm. The process does not cease, leaving the hailstorm wondering why her husband is so cold and unavailable and the turtle wondering why his wife is so mean and critical.
Becoming conscious of our styles- the first step to change
Once we understand what is happening in this interchange, we can adjust our approach. My wife isn’t out to get me; she is actually feeling unsafe, and does not intend to harm me. My husband is not trying to avoid me; he is actually feeling threatened and does not intend to hurt me. This consciousness awakens within us compassion and curiosity to find out what is making our spouse unsafe, instead of our previous feelings of threat and fear. We no longer have to dramatize or run away when we experience this behavior; we can break the cycle by engaging in a safe Imago dialogue (as we will learn about in the next installment of the pre-engagement counseling ecourse). The more safety we bring into our relationship, the less need for us to revert to our old patterns.
Hailstorm or Turtle?
The following checklist is designed to help you learn more about yourself and how you typically get safe. The purpose is to foster a greater awareness so that you can act from a more conscious place. Place a plus or a minus by the behavior that applies to you most often.
When I get upset I tend to…
• feel tight inside and do not verbalize my emotions.
• adopt an “I’ll take care of myself/I don’t need anyone” attitude.
• not be able to tell my partner why I’m upset.
• express very few if any needs.
• exclude others from my personal space.
• withhold my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.
• figure things out by myself.
• feel safer alone or in situations that are not intense.
When I get upset I tend to…
• express my feelings with a lot of energy.
• turn to others and talk to them about what I am going through.
• tell my partner all about my upset.
• need others around when I am upset and am very open with my feelings.
• express my needs verbally and try to get my partner to hear and to respond.
• feel responsible for making the relationship work and getting my partner to open up and talk.
• be excessively generous.
• get others’ input about what I should be doing to handle the situation.
Now, complete this sentence: “When I get upset, I tend to become like a (Turtle) (Hailstorm) (depending on which got more plus marks in the above chart) to hide my fear of/that…”
Write what fear you think your habitual response is hiding. (The fear may not be apparent.) For example, you could write: “being unimportant,” “that you don’t love me,” “that you will leave me,” “that you will control me,” “that you will smother me,” “that you will reject me.”
Summary of what you learned in Lesson 2 of the Pre-engagement Counseling Ecourse:
- In a relationship there is always one partner maximizing energy and the other minimzing energy.
- Our expression of energy can be very unsafe for our spouse.
- When we become aware of our energy styles we can have compassion for each other and stop negative patterns.
- Creating safety prevents us from needing to engage in old patterns
I hope you’ve enjoyed lesson #2 of The Pre-Engagement Counseling E-course. If you need more assistance with your engagement and want to make sure you have all the tools necessary for your upcoming marriage, please don’t hesitate to call 443-570-7598.