Thanks to dating apps and the continuous access to just about anyone, finding a date really isn’t all that complex. Relationships are inevitable. However, it’s that deep, meaningful relationship that tends to fall into the complex barrel. We find ourselves dealing with the wrong ones so many times, that we tend to have dwindling hopes of finding those deeper meaningful relationships.
What if we can create purpose, meaning and happiness that lasts in our relationships? We can. We always could have.
To answer these questions and many more that often go unaddressed, it is important to understand the shared meaning of your relationship, as well as your relationship's statement of purpose.
What is “shared meaning”? Shared meaning is the culture you and your partner create in unison. Shared meaning is often correlated with the level of intimacy your relationship will have. Simply put, the more united and developed your relationship's culture is, the higher the levels of your intimacy will become.
So, what gives meaning to a common culture in a relationship? Well, it’s the things you both do: Daily habits, how you celebrate events and anniversaries, the rituals you both either adopted or created together and even the foods you both enjoy together.
It’s about the things you both agree upon as well as the things you do not discuss but do in your normalcy together. An example of an unspoken shared meaning is when you nor your partner mention the reason a particular song means so much, but every time it comes on while you are together, you both harmoniously (or even in the most silly way) sing it loudly without a care in the world. It’s those secrets you share and in the way you share them.
Why is shared meaning important?
Simply put, the couples who develop shared meaning, more likely than not, develop higher levels of intimacy. Shared meaning is substance. It’s the core to longevity in your relationship. Now, when you first enter a new relationship, there really isn’t any shared meaning. You’re in an early phase enjoying newness and figuring things out while feeling butterflies. The newness of the relationship doesn’t require shared meaning because you don’t necessarily have a long-term goal in place. At this phase, you are primarily still learning about each other.
When progression takes its turn, shared meaning becomes essential in creating a bond that is far deeper and more meaningful than the butterflies and newness phase. Most experts agree that shared meaning takes years to develop, however, there are ways to make it a quicker process, and this will help your relationship exponentially.
Let’s start by simply talking about your shared meaning. Now, I know that more often than realized, shared meaning happens without discussion; but shared meaning should be talked about. It helps move things further along in a healthy way. The things you and your partner just happen to do, try labeling it as “our thing”. There is a hint of romance in having “our thing.” It elevates the importance and the purpose of it. Henceforth, bringing you both closer in those moments.
Try developing rituals and activities together to heighten the connectivity between you both. Don’t let your days get in the way, but instead, take initiative and work to create rituals you both enjoy. Celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and holidays, but do so in a way that fits both of you. Make those days have a particular meaning to you both other than how you have done them in the past. The way you celebrated in the past is not the rule forever. Make your relationship about the two of you and synonymously create a new meaning for you both.
Another big one in the development of shared meaning: Share visions and goals. Working together towards your partner's goals, as well as the goals of your union will keep you both stronger and heighten your intimacy without even thinking about it. This, along with acknowledgement of your partner's values, goals and dreams are some of the healthier things you can acknowledge.
One thing I highly recommend is to figure out your partner’s love language. Meaningful relationships can be described differently by different people, but the one common denominator is love.
Never assume your partner’s love language is the same as anyone you dated in the past. Some people hold value Words of Affirmation while others may find value in gifts. This particular relationship must be meaningful enough that you are giving your partner attention, thought and doing your part to enhance and elevate the union. If you don’t understand your partner’s love language, you may be building a home they don’t want to live in, brick by misguided brick.
What are some simple but meaningful ideas for shared meaning? How about making sure you both take vacation time off from work at the same time? Try exercising together, or doing chores or volunteer services together. Synchronously learn to pause during arguments without someone walking away. TV time, movie nights, whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be complex to mean something to the relationship, but it should be about the culture you create in unison.
If shared meaning is fairly new to you or not something you have given much thought to previous to this, remember this: Having couple culture is one of the most powerful ways to elevate your relationship's intimacy and the overall chances of long-term health. Encourage and honor each other continuously.
As we internalize shared meaning and look to make sure we identify and create this in our relationships, let’s take a moment to discuss your relationship's purpose statement. We don’t really question these things until we are in a bad space. We then ask “why am I here?” But if we took the time to discuss our relationship purpose statement with our partner, we learn several things. We learn why we are in each other’s lives, we question “do we have different goals for the direction of the relationship?”, we learn compatibility levels, we learn standards, the importance of things like sacrifice, feeling loved, traveling, sharing, honesty and so forth. These are things that not only promote happiness but develop long standing happiness in relationships.
People tend to think this has to be a written act, but it doesn’t. A relationship purpose statement can be discussed as well. You want to uncover if the relationship still has meaning or if it has become the victim of habit. Does it even make sense to continue the relationship?
You do not have to even be in a relationship to write a relationship purpose statement. You should learn how you would define and identify a meaningful and healthy relationship. Your potential partner or current partner should be able to identify this as well.
Having a genuine compatibility is important and allows both parties to give themselves freely and effortlessly without having to feel shortchanged in some manner. Does your partner appreciate what you offer? Do you appreciate that in your partner? When compatibility exists in your relationship, there is an aura that differs from those partially matched relationships. There is a clear difference in being carefree and spontaneous. There is a more loving and flowing energy in the relationship if compatible. When it comes to happiness in relationships, we always hear words like communication, effort, love, compassion and so many others. It is assumed we all share an equal meaning to them, as so often the words are regurgitated in similarity. There is always more.
Happiness is not as complex to have in your relationship. Understanding shared meaning and your relationship purpose statement are unsung heroes in the long-term health of your relationship.
Bonus tip: I often tell people about the 3 F’s. Forgiveness, Fun and Freedom.
The capacity for forgiveness is a maturity that carries your relationship through and takes it to greater heights.
Having fun together is so important that many experts believe that if you can’t have fun together, you do not belong together. Relationships can’t feel like a business arrangement.
The freedom to express oneself and to be comfortable with your partner isn’t usually discussed but is integral to longevity.
Relationships do take communication, time, importance, attention, thought, action and so much more, but love is the anchor. Let yourself know your shared meaning and find yourself and your relationship thankful for it.
Co-founder of the Love Discovery Institute, Dr. Carolina Pataky is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Therapist. Recognized as one of South Florida’s leading authorities on intimacy, relationships and self-discovery. Her focus is to give individuals and couples of any sexual preference the tools to learn how to love themselves unconditionally, receive love, and create fulfilling and joyful relationships that will last a lifetime. Through private sessions, couples’ intensives and luxury retreats, she provides individual and couples coaching sessions, sex therapy, and psychotherapy practices that support clients through the journey of finding the right path to healthy love. Visit her website www.lovediscovery.org or follow @carolinapataky
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