After a week of incredible dust storms in Sydney and the problems we all had with our vision (and breathing!), it got me thinking about the difficulties we sometimes have with our vision in gay relationships. In my gay relationship counselling work with singles and couples, I often hear statements such as, “I just fell into this relationship and found out after 4 months we are not working” or, “He/she is not the person I thought they were and I want out” or, “I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again and don’t seem to be able to find the right partner”. Another common statement is “I’m just not satisfied where my relationship is going and it feels like we are drifting apart.” If any of these statements ring true, then developing a relationship vision can help you.
Let me take you on a journey. If you have a partner, I want you to imagine you and your partner in your ideal relationship in 1 year from now. What are you doing? How are you being with each other? What is your relationship like? I then want you to consider your relationship in 5 years from now. How do you deal with stress as a couple? How do you work through differences and conflict? How do you communicate when you are both not at your best? Now if you are beginning to get a sense of what might be happening in your relationship and how you ideally are with each other, then you are beginning to create a relationship vision.
If you are single, I encourage you to do the same exercise, however, think about the type of partner you wish to be with and what type of relationship you want to create with someone. Now I am not talking about what colour eyes, type of car, or how much income your potential future partner will have. What I am referring to is the values that you feel strongly about and you would like to share with your partner. For example, what values do you have around respect, communication and affection? You may place an importance on listening to each other when you experience conflict. You may value saying hello and goodbye with a gesture of affection. And no matter how hard or bad things get between you, you always want to be treated respectfully.
Becoming clearer about what you want to create with your partner can help you engage in your relationship with more direction and focus. For singles it can mean that when you begin a new relationship, you are going in with your eyes wide open. You will be clear within yourself about what you are looking for and what is important to you. It’s like being in a boat at sea at night and seeing a lighthouse in the distance. The lighthouse tells you where to sail when you see it’s light. Think of your relationship like that boat. Without direction and a long term vision, you may not end up going anywhere fast. And the worst case scenario is you may hit the rocks.
Relationship visioning can help you and your partner define your relationship goals and then move towards them. I encourage my clients to write down 5 personal goals, 5 professional/work goals and 5 relationship goals. Do this for 1 year from now, 5 years from now and even further if you wish. I suggest that you do this in isolation to begin with and then share them with each other once you have completed your goals. You might be surprised to learn about your partner’s vision! The next step is finding a way you can bring your separate visions together and begin to work on the goals that are important for each of you.
I think this is a greater challenge for gay singles and couples as we often do not see the modeling of successful relationships in our community. This can make it even more vital to communicate with your partner about what your relationship vision is for the future. Take the time to reflect on what kind of a relationship you want to create and what it will look like. The time and energy you invest in this will pay dividends through supporting you in creating a loving and nurturing gay relationship.