Communication issues between the sexes is relatively new issue for the human race. It’s only been in the last 160 years or so that the primary role of the family unit started to shift away from pure survival and we have been allowed to consider the real thoughts and emotions of the other.
Since business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives make up the bulk of my clients, I get to see how this struggle between relationship and personal drive can play out. More often than not, in the course of mentoring someone toward professional growth we have to tackle issues with their marriage or other intimate relationships.
There are numerous variations on how the scene plays out, but consistently there is a sense of disconnect between where each person in the relationship sees their lives going. One could be fired up about how business growth will fuel their life together and the other one is fearful that the growth will pull them apart. When we dig in and break it down we usually find that both of them want many of the same things, but they haven’t had a platform to discuss it from.
Since I can’t really address every variation that exists in the confines of this article, I want to at least give you five common steps I walk couples through that help bring you to a place of understanding. Use these tips and build a firm foundation of communication for a strong future together.
1. Identify your individual visions. When working with an individual I make them start by answering, “What do you want your life to look like?” It’s no different with couples, with the exception that I want them doing the vision work individually first. This is important because you want a true representation of each person so that no one is heavy-handed or dominates. Everyone deserves their space.
2. Put them side-by-side. Once each has articulated what they want their life to look like, we need to see them together. The temptation will be to start defending your own turf and see the other as a threat… don’t do it! Imagine you are looking at the visions of two people you don’t know. See where they are the same, similar, and different. This is the beginning of the process, not the end.
3. Celebrate the overlaps. Congratulations! I guarantee you have similar if not identical aspirations for your lives. Things that are absolutely in alignment and very meaningful. How about a high-five on that? It’s fun to see couples realize that they were not as far apart as they thought and find a foundation from which to work.
4. Dig deep on the seeming disconnects or conflicts. Finding places that don’t align is not a sign of trouble. The steps here involve looking deeper to answer why this particular thing is important to you. Get to the core issue of the desire and you often find that you each have the same underlying purpose but it shows up differently in each of your minds. Even if differences exist, that doesn’t mean the end. It just means you are individuals and there may be points that you simply need to support each other.
5. Create your life intentionally and with eyes wide open. With this new level of understanding about similarities and differences we can begin building a common vision for where you are headed. How we plan, adjust, and evaluate the activities and decisions of our lives is totally different when both members of a relationship are moving together. Being intentional about your direction and aware of each other makes all the difference in the world.
The key to longevity and substance in relationships is how we communicate. How we communicate is dictated by how we value the other person and ourselves. Taking the time to express our own vision and appreciate the vision of our spouse is not a luxury, but a necessity. If we can’t decide together where we are going, we might find ourselves traveling alone.
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PJ McClure helps aspiring entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar business owners destroy roadblocks and seize opportunities to achieve their ideal vision of success. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset and Unlock Your Life: How to go beyond Time-Management to the Life of Your Dreams. You can download a copy of Flip the SWITCH for Free by clicking here.