12 Fundamentals of Relationships

It’s so often that I see couples wanting to know if there is a shortcut and overall description of how it is to have a happy relationship with one another. While there’s no cheatsheet, there are certainly commanlities that all healthy relationships can function off of, and apply principles to the fabric of what makes individual relationship work. A sort of fundamentals list, mirroring the fundamentals of athletics. So, I thought I’d borrow some of the ideas that structure athletic training, and see how it can be applied to our relationships.

1.) Fill up the Boxscore
While in athletics, some people pay close attention to flashy stats: points, home runs, touchdowns, etc. What they miss are what makes those things possible: assists, bunts, and blocking. These may be seem flashy, but they’re integral for success. Similarly, in relationships, people pay close attention to the aspects of relationships that appear appealing to others, such as events like Weddings and Anniversaries, Birthdays and other celebrations. Happy couples are able to not only celebrate the big days, but make sure the days in between feel valid, important, and filled with connection too.

2.) Play Big
This has to do with physical size on the court or field, namely which is an intimidation technique. However, I think moreso it can be used to feel comfortable occupying your stance and role within the relationship. Often, as much as we may like it in theory, we do not want someone to caputilate to our every demand. We want someone who has an opinion and will listen to ours and find ways to work with us, and not give in. Have a backbone.

3.) Communicate
Whether it’s with teammates, coaches, refs, or the opposition, talking is a needed tool in all athletics. It’s pretty apparent that it’s even more important in romantic relationships. Learning how to talk in ways that get your point across but don’t leave the other person feeling attacked or degraded may be the single biggest factor of happy relationships.

4.) No wait… actually communicate
Yup… it’s important enough to have two. Finding ways to effectively discuss your own needs, and notify your partner of what these things are. No one is a mind reader, and being able to identify your own needs and wants is critical for the other person to be able to fulfill those aspects of the relationship.

5.) No Flopping
Every sport has an element of a “flop”, or faking an injury of some kind to garner a penelty, pity, or merely a manipulation tactic for later. In relationships, this can happen during arguments where a person uses the dynamic of an argument to position themselves for later in the argument or to otherwise manipulate for later arguments. Stick to the point, and try to work within the dynamic as a teammate rather than seeking to best the other adversarilly.

6.) Be flexible and varied
In modern relationships, the roles we must all fill are more varied than many traditional orientations of relationships. The demands of working, raising children, staying connected with families of origin and maintaining friendships all pull us in different directions. Focusing on only one of these areas may leave the others negligent and ignored.

7.) Use your teammates
In somewhat direct opposition the previous number, that’s a lot to handle! Instead of wearing ourselves so thin when we don’t have the resources available, it may be worth investing in your partner to help you through these difficulties rather than seeing them as the enemy. Nothing bonds people together like relying on them to help us in times of need, and to feel confident we can help them when they call on us for support.

8.) Respect the hot hand.
All of us get into “the zone” sometimes. Some of us can feel insecure if we don’t feel in the spotlight, and someone else is stepping into a dominant position. This has to do with viewing relationships within a teammwork framework, and seeing your partners successes as part of your own.

9.) Know the role of sarcasm
Trash talking is lots of fun on the field, and for some couples, playful banter and sarcasm can be a healthy part of what maintains the friendship in a relationship rather than the romanticism. However, when sarcasm enters into arguments, unsure intent and feelings of vulnerability can derail any couple, and build resentments for the future.

10.) Situational Awareness
Ever score a goal on your own team or run the opposite way of where you ought to be going? Perhaps not, but cracking a joke when the other person is near tears or using apathy as a way to deflect a meaningful moment can leave couples feeling disconnected from one another. Keep your head on a relational swivel.

11.) Watch others to pick up tricks
Nothing can help a team prepare like scouting themselves and opponents. Utilizing self reflection and paying attention to others you feel have quality relationships can spawn quality discussions and corrections. Even learning what not to do and what your partner doesn’t want you to do can be helpful when an issue arrises.

12.) Have FUN!
Both in sports and relationships, it’s important to remember: this is voluntary. You both entered into this because you wanted to. Because it was enjoyable, and enriching to both of your lives. Life is exceedingly short… laugh, play, be silly, be sexy, be spontaneous. Enjoying life with another person can be the greatest part of existence, and it’s important to celebrate and infuse your life with happiness whenever possible.

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