My spouse and I took ballroom dance lessons many years ago. We took our dance lessons on Sunday evenings in a church basement with several other couples that also longed for grace and style on the dance floor. We enjoyed our classes because we made new friends and learned several dances we could use at wedding receptions and parties. Ensuring that we danced with grace and style and not step on each other’s toes meant we had to decide who would lead and who would follow. We were constantly at odds on who would lead and who would follow and therefore, constantly stepping on each other’s toes. Ouch!
We were told that learning to lead and follow is the secret sauce to ballroom dancing and the most difficult skill to master. Our instructors reminded us over and over that it is impossible to move with grace and style on the dance floor without us being able to decide who would lead. The problem was we were beginners, and my spouse was not skilled at giving me the proper signals or any at all to follow him and I was having trouble giving up control to a man to lead me. All because we failed to understand our innate personality preferences and we lacked a neutral language for describing and expressing our feelings, we stopped going to our dance classes. Silly! Right?
We all strive to feel successful in our romantic and intimate relationships. It can present various challenges, feel overwhelming, and result in incorrect assumptions at times. I don’t have the perfect formula for favorable outcomes, but my spouse and I have found having an awareness and understanding of our personality preferences and differences has helped us to have more effective communications with each other. We are still striving every day to better interact with each other in positive ways and we’ve found using our Myers-Briggs Type Indicator results to be very helpful.
Awareness + Curiosity + Choice = Change
Using my above model, here are some steps we have found helpful and despite appearing obvious and simple, they take lots of practice!
Awareness: We know that we take in information very differently and make our decisions very differently. Our personality differences that may have attracted us initially, later became a source of conflict.
Curiosity: We sit in curiosity rather than assumption. My spouse needs specifics, such as facts and details, and becomes frustrated when information is not presently in specific detail. I prefer to take in information more generally and get bored with facts and details. My spouse makes decisions objectively and firm-minded. I make decisions preferring harmony more than clarity and therefore, subjectively. Neither of our preferences is better than the others, that are just simply different.
Choice: When our conversations don’t go as expected, we don’t use our personality differences as an excuse. We are open to flexing to the other’s preferences while still staying true to our own preferences. We practice something in type called, “flexing” which means do our best to present information in other’s preference first then follow in our preferred style.
Change: Checking in with each other to be sure we are each understood and allowing time for meaningful responses ensures the possibility that each of our needs are met or considered in a positive way.
How are you giving your best to your romantic and intimate relationships?
Make a list of three positive things you will do this week using my “Awareness + Curiosity + Choice = Change” model and implement them in your romantic and intimate relationship.
How will you take the first step to dance in your romantic and intimate relationship and not step on each other’s toes?
I wish you a week of Intent Awareness, Innate Curiosity, and Best Choices for Meaningful Change.