January 21, 2012

How to Create a Relationship Vision. ~ Joe Elliott

Photo: Robert Flake

One of my favorite metaphors is that of climbing a mountain.  In descriptions of the spiritual journey, this metaphor is used again and again to describe the path that must be taken to realize growth and change. The mountain is a symbol of strength and stillness. The climber most often represents an aspect of ourselves. The climber is always seeking  a vision that will put everything into perspective, that will add significance and meaning to the entire journey.

In many ways a relationship with an intimate partner can be compared to the journey of climbing a mountain. Most relationships begin with a dream or an ideal about what it will be like when we are truly fulfilled. In “In romantic partnerships, do opposites attract”, I discussed how a deeper agenda becomes clear when we examine the source of what attracts us to our partner. That deeper agenda is an impulse towards wholeness, and healing the hurt and difficult to access parts of ourselves. This can be likened to a climber who prepares to ascend  the mountain who realizes that there are in fact dangers and perils ahead, but who also develops a hunger and a deeper appreciation for reaching the destination.

In “When the Romance in Intimate Partnerships Wears Thin”, I discussed the power struggles that a number of couples go through. At this stage in the relationship, couples must face their fears and resist the urge to hide behind ultimatums about what they want from their partner. At this stage, couples learn to adopt practices that re-establish safety in their relationship and allow for dialogue that facilitates learning and healing. This can be compared to the climber acclimating to the territory and becoming more confident in the route they are taking.

When couples have an understanding of the deeper purpose in their relationship and when they have a greater understanding of each other they can begin to put together a relationship vision.

Step 1-The couple should put together brief statements regarding their personal vision of a deeply satisfying love relationship. The statements should be in the present tense and should be positive.  Consider items from the following list: we are healthy and physically active, we share a spiritual practice, we are financially secure, we live close to our parents, we have similar political views, we are each other’s best friends, we both have satisfying careers, we have secure and healthy children, we are sexually satisfied.

Step 2-Share what you have written with your partner. Underline the things that you have in common and rank these items in level of importance on a scale of 1-5. Create an expanded list with the statements that you agree on. Put the most important items first. Work on a compromise of items that you at first don’t agree on.

Step 3- Post the list where both of you can see it easily. Use it as a reminder of what you both want to achieve in the partnership [1].

In this example, you can see how Genevieve and Mike, the founders of MamaNatural Blog created a vision for their relationship:


[1] Hendrix, H. 1998.  Getting the Love You Want.  New York: St. Martins


Joe Elliott has been working to help families for the past thirteen years. His specialties are in couples counseling, family therapy, death and dying, parenting, financial management, and adoption. Joe received his undergraduate degree from Naropa University in Psychology and Religious Studies and his Masters in Counseling from Regis University in Denver. Joe completed a Post-Graduate Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy from The Denver Family Institute. Joe has also taught Family Therapy to students at Metro State Community College. Find out more here.

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