Relationship 201: What Constitutes a True Partnership?

Most of us long to be in a happy and healthy relationship. Songs are created about finding and sustaining love. In addition; a day has been dedicated to couples celebrating romance and love.  Dating is fun.  Falling in love, while scary, is also fun.  The “honeymoon phase” of a relationship is fun and blissful.  On the other side of this fun are challenges.  All relationships experience the normal ups and downs and ebbs and flows.  Through my observations, experiences and interviewing; I have learned that being a good partner sustains a relationship.

While there are many components to being a good partner, I have highlighted four that I find to be most impactful:

Give 100%: I often hear people say “a relationship is 50-50.” 50-50 equates to each person giving half the effort.  Can a relationship be successful with each person only giving 50% of their efforts?  Is the person you claim to love worth half of your efforts?  True partnership is giving your all with no reservations.

Selflessness: The ability to place your partner’s needs before your own.  You replace the “I” for the “we.”  When making decisions you are factoring how your decisions will impact your significant other. It is not just about you, it’s about team US.

Don’t hold grudges: Disagreements and even arguments will occur in relationships.  Use the disagreements as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of your partner.  Continue to communicate about the disagreement with each other.  Forgive and move on.  Holding grudges with your partner weakens the relationship.

You play for the same team: When your teammate is having a bad day, offer support, encouragement or give him/her the space needed to recuperate.  A good partner does not down talk their mate to others.  A good partner speaks life and has the uncomfortable, but necessary conversations with their mate.

When you’re in a true partnership you learn and grow together. As my husband says, “you become two halves of one whole genius.”

Now it’s time to hear from you! What makes you a good partner? What do you think it takes to sustain a relationship?

 

Sharise Hemby-Nance is a licensed therapist and award winning author with 15 years of experience in individual and couples counseling.   For more information or assistance with relationship building or couples packages please contact me at vitaminchealing@gmail.com or visit http://www.hihcounseling.com

 

 

Our Wedding in Paradise: From Facebook Friends to Newlyweds

992214663One of my favorite pastimes is talking sports, especially football.  A little over 3 years ago, I was invited to a sports group on a social networking site.  Some of the debates can be quite aggressive as most fans take pride in the teams they support.  However, the comments of my future husband caught my attention.  Not only did he have an exceptional sports IQ, but he had a calm and classy demeanor.  He would not react to aggressive or belligerent comments.  He always handled these debates with class.  Immediately, I thought; who is this guy????  I admit that I spent time stocking his facebook page to obtain as much information as possible before sending a “friend request.”  His facebook page was filled with positivity and I did not notice a “Mrs. Nance.”  Before I could send a friend request, he beat me to it!  For the first month of our cyber friendship we did not chat outside of the sports group.  One night I was having difficulty staying asleep and posted the status “Insomnia.com.”  Who knew this would be the facebook status that would change our lives?!?!  Insomnia.com led to private inbox chats, which led to 12 hour phone conversations.  I had never felt this connected to someone, let alone someone I had not yet met in person.  Initially some family and friends were not in favor of our relationship.  “How well do you know him?”  “Are you really going to visit him in NYC?”  “You met him on facebook!!!”  “What if you get catfished?”  These were a few of the responses I was met with upon telling family and friends about my new love.  While these were all valid points, I had to take a chance and do something different.  Our first attempt to pursue an intimate relationship ended as a result of distance and our careers.  I grew unhappy with the distance and wanted out of the relationship.  Bil understood my position and encouraged me to date other guys as he wanted me to be happy.  If we were meant to be together, we would find our way back to each other.  About six months later, we got reacquainted through our love of football and engaging in candid conversations.  We agreed we would remain friends until a face to face meeting.  January, 2013 we met in Washington DC at the presidential inauguration and we connected immediately.  Being in Bil’s presence was comparable to old friends playing catch up.  He asked me to be his queen and told me one day I would be his wife.  He even sent pictures of engagement rings.  We spent time in Pittsburgh and NYC.  I developed more respect for Bil each day.  He made so many sacrifices for our relationship and he believed in my vision to open a private counseling practice in Pittsburgh.  He believed in me so much that he relocated to Pittsburgh because he saw my vision was needed in Pittsburgh to carry out the task of generational healing in the communities.  Being supportive, respectful, honest and having open communication were the key ingredients in taking our relationship to the next level.  He led by example in demonstrating the meaning of putting someone else’s needs first.  More importantly, he expanded my view of being a good partner in a healthy relationship.

The proposal:

Bil actually proposed twice!  We went together to pick out my engagement rings and our wedding bands, but he still surprised me with the proposal.  We were casually hanging out in our home, I turn around and he is down on one knee.  I nearly lost my breath.  I starred at the ring the entire weekend and had a permanent smile pasted on my face.  A month later we went to NYC so he could propose to me in the place he dreamed of since childhood where he would ask his love to be his wife; under the Brooklyn Bridge.   Most people may not know that I am very shy.  Although I love public speaking, I get really shy when I am the center of attention.   There were so many people around and although I was nervous; all I saw was Bil.  After the proposal in NYC; we were ready for our destination wedding in Ocho Rios, Jamaica!

Our wedding day:

The week leading up to our wedding was filled with so many emotions.  I could not focus on work or business.  I was ready to marry my love and share this joyous occasion with family and friends.  Not only were we getting married; we were getting married in Jamaica and we had 50 guests in attendance.  We had 50 people who love, support and took time away from their busy lives to celebrate our special day with us.  From the time we left our house to drive to the airport I was able to relax and take in every moment.  Even when something went wrong, I was still able to relax.  Upon arrival in Jamaica, it was hot!!!  We stayed on Sandals resort and the staff treated us like royalty.  The activities, spa, music, guests and food options were amazing!!!  The resort had 15 restaurants which included various ethnic foods.

My favorite memories from our wedding were watching our families bond, my mom, grandmother and bridesmaids helping me get dressed, advice from my married friends, wedding day prep talk from close family, my father walking me down the aisle and both of my parents standing united to give me away to Bil.  The laughter, dancing, champagne toasts, line dancing and photos are special memories that will remain in my heart.

A little over two weeks into our marriage and it still feels like our honeymoon.  People often ask if it feels any different being married.  The biggest difference is the name change.  I have to get used to people calling me Mrs. Nance.  The Dj at our reception was calling “Mrs. Nance” to the front of the room and it didn’t dawn on me that he was talking to me until people told me he was talking to me!  The wedding was a fun celebration and I will forever cherish every second of this joyous occasion.  I could not have picked a better partner to traverse through life’s journeys.

I would like to hear from you!  What are your key ingredients to staying happily married?

The Myths & Realities of Conflict: Tips to Managing Conflict in the various facets of our lives

What is conflict?

Conflict can be defined as 2 or more parties with opposing views having a disagreement or debate.  Examples of where conflict shows up include parent-child conflict, workplace conflict, couples conflict, peer conflict.  Some of us attempt to avoid conflict as if it were the plague.  Others welcome conflict as if it were a long-lost friend.  The purpose of this article is to enhance your tool box so you are prepared to manage conflict as it occurs in your personal and professional lives.

What are the myths?

“It’s better not to talk about conflict?”  This statement may speak to what we were taught about conflict.  What are your views about conflict?  Can talking about conflict make the problem worse?  Discussing the problem that resulted in conflict is likely to cause both parties to escalate.  However, the things we do not discuss have no chance of getting resolved.

“The other party must change!” Take a minute to reflect on your last conflict.  Did you spend time attempting to convince them why your way was “the” way? Did you spend time convincing them that you were right and they were wrong?  Maybe you were on the other side of this conflict where you were the receiver of this convincing and persuading.  Did this strategy effect change in you or the other party?  We may be able to temporarily convince or persuade someone to see things through our lens but it is nearly impossible to sustain this behavior.  Remember, change comes from within and is sustained by internal motivators.

What are the realities?

“Conflict is a form of communication.” I see many clients who seek our services stating “they want to learn to communicate with each other.” I remind them that they are in fact communicating with each other, conflict is a form of communication and conflict occurs in the healthiest relationships.  Combat, however is not a healthy form of communication and occurs when each party is gearing up to take on the other on the battlefield.

“We can change how we respond to conflict.”  Conflict is 10 percent of what we absorb from our party and 90 percent of how we respond or react to our party.  As mentioned previously, we cannot change our party, but we can change how we think and respond to conflict.  Be the change you want to see.  I discuss this further in my book, Vitamin C: The Healing Workbook, available for purchase here.

Managing Conflict in our personal and professional relationships

Use the conflict as an opportunity.  Our perception is our reality.  If we view conflict as combat, each time conflict arises we will gear up to battle our party.  However, if we view it as an opportunity to learn, grow and connect; conflict may not have such a negative connotation associated with it.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Although conflict is normal in all relationships, it is still uncomfortable for most of us.  We must have those necessary, but uncomfortable conversations where conflict will arise in order to grow in our relationships.  Helping professionals who advocate for social justice on behalf of their clients encounter conflict almost on a daily basis.  Co-parents disagreeing on child rearing practices, colleagues disagreeing on company projects, business partners disagreeing      on the structure of the company are more examples of relationships where each party relies on the other for a bigger cause; and their ability to manage conflict can have a profound impact on society.

“It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” When managing conflict we need a healthy balance of emotion and logic in order to be successful.  Emotions allow us to have empathy and logic allows us to reason.  Being empathetic is acknowledging the other party’s position.   Lead with “I” statements in order to avoid blaming.  For example “I feel hurt when you call me names.” “I’m hearing you say.”  Applying logic to conflict is using discernment and determining when it is okay to agree to disagree.

When approaching a situation that may result in conflict, take a deep breath and ask yourself these 2 questions, “What is going on within me that will impact this conversation?”  What am I hoping to accomplish from this conversation?” Remember, conflict is inevitable; combat is optional.

Are you seeking techniques for managing conflict in your life?  Click here for more information on managing conflict.