Relationship Coaching News
Copyright 2006 by Relationship Coaching Institute. All rights reserved. Feel free to share with others as long as our contact information and authorship is included. U.S. Library of Congress ISSN#1530-3055.
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By David Steele
Now it's time to focus attention to the phenomenon that singles become couples and their journey towards a successful and fulfilling life partnership.
We've decided to call this journey "Conscious Mating." Just as a conscious single must have clarity about who they are, what they want, and how to get it, so must a conscious couple. As challenging as it is for singles to make good long term relationship choices in alignment with what they want, it can be even more challenging to make good long-term relationship choices when in a pre-committed relationship, which is the focus of "Conscious Mating."
My goal for writing and publishing "Conscious Mating" is to educate the public about the pre-commitment stage of relationship and how to use it as a launching pad for a successful and fulfilling life partnership.
WHAT IS PRE-COMMITMENT?
When singles become couples in today's world, most are wondering at some level "Is this 'The One'? Should I be with this person for the rest of my life?" They are an exclusive couple, but not yet committed.
It may be tempting to call these couples "pre-marital" as a catch-all term to include all couples that haven't yet taken the step of becoming committed. However, in my opinion, the mindset of a pre-marital couple is "We want to be married," which is very different from the pre-commitment mindset of "Is this the right relationship for me?"
Many helping professionals do not distinguish between committed and pre-committed couples, approaching all couples in the same manner, either always being neutral about whether the couple should stay together, or always advocating making the relationship work. In my opinion, it is a mistake to take the same position with all couples, because the agenda, attitude, and circumstances of a committed couple can be very different from that of a pre-committed couple, and must be highlighted and taken into account when working with them.
I believe we need to be an advocate for making committed relationships work, and we need to be neutral when working with pre-committed and pre-marital relationships. Our priority with pre-committed and pre-marital couples should be to support their agenda of making a good long-term choice and avoid the "round-peg/square hole" situation that often leads to relationship failure.
WHAT IS COMMITMENT?
A committed couple have typically performed an identifiable act, symbolic or formal, to become committed; usually, but not always, with the intention of staying together for Life. Their commitment is explicit, and both are well aware of it. In this context, most people would say there are no exits, and unhappiness alone is not a viable reason to leave the relationship.
Many people fear commitment but want the benefit of a committed relationship, so they will make committed choices and actions, but not make a mental or emotional commitment. Sorting out whether the couple is committed or not, and helping them align their attitudes with their choices, is often my first step in coaching today's couples.
I have talked with many unmarried people who described themselves as being in "committed" relationships. They clearly have the attitude, but often have nothing to demonstrate that the relationship is committed.
IN MY OPINION, YOU ARE NOT IN A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP IF:
A commitment is explicit and unambiguous. A commitment is a formal event of some kind between two people. A commitment is something you DO over time. A real commitment is usually legally enforceable and there are consequences for breaking it. And, for a relationship to be truly committed, there are no exits- mentally, emotionally, or physically. When the going gets rough, you make it work.
FACT VS. ATTITUDE
Commitment in a relationship is complicated in that it takes two people, and it requires an alignment of FACT (events, actions) and ATTITUDE (thoughts, beliefs) for both of them.
It is common to be committed in fact (e.g. "married") but not in attitude (e.g. "I'm not sure this is the right relationship for me"). It is also common to be pre-committed in fact (e.g. dating exclusively) and committed in attitude (e.g. "This is 'The One!' ").
TWO TYPES OF PRE-COMMITMENT
Pre-committed couples generally fall into two categories-
PARTNERS IN LIFE- THE PRECURSOR TO CONSCIOUS MATING
Here at Relationship Coaching Institute we developed our "Partners in Life" (PIL) program for pre-committed and pre-marital couples eight years ago, shortly after launching our "Conscious Dating" program for singles.
PIL includes a client workbook with a series of exercises and steps that help couples identify their life vision, purpose, requirements, needs, and wants, and faciliate a process of dialoguing to develop clarity about their long-term compatibility. It is not the coaches job to judge the relationship. The coach's role is to faciliate the process and support the couple to have enough detachment to be willing to unchoose the relationship if it does not appear to a good long-term choice.
Years ago when I identified the pre-commitment stage and started developing some approaches to working with these couples, I recognized this stage as different than "pre-marital" but didn't know what to call it. The label "pre-commitment" was intended to be temporary, but it stuck. I was amazed at the lack of recognition, information, and resources for this stage of relationship among mainstream relationship experts and the available research and literature. As I write this today I'm still amazed at the lack of recognition of this stage of relationship in the mainstream and hope to change that with the publication of "Conscious Mating," which will benefit from our experiences with our graduates and clients of the Partners in Life program.
THE NEXT STEPS FOR CONSCIOUS MATING
Linda Marshall is our Director of Couples Programs and has trained hundreds of RCI graduates to help pre-committed couples using the Partners in Life Program. Between her own work coaching couples for many years in her practice and her role here at RCI, Linda is in a position to make substantial contributions to a book on pre-committed relationships.
When I approached her about this earlier this month she agreed to co-write the book with me and suggested the title "Conscious Mating." I immediately went online and did a domain search to find that the URL www.consciousmating.com was indeed available. Amazing! It's like the name was waiting for us. I bought the domain name and it forwards to www.partnersinlife.org for now.
Linda and I will work together to develop and write Conscious Mating, enlisting the help of RCI graduates for their feedback and leads for case studies. So watch this space for more information about Conscious Mating in the future.
RELATED ARTICLES ON PRE-COMMITMENT
David Steele, MA, LMFT is founder of Relationship Coaching Institute and author of the ground-breaking new book for singles Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life in Today's World. www.ConsciousDating.com
© 2006 David Steele– All rights reserved.
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