Groundbreaking Relationship Framework
After my twenty-one year marriage ended, I asked myself, what insights are there, if any, from my experience that could have a transformative impact on the quality of my future relationships?
I felt intuitively that my experiences, feelings and frustrations were not unique to me. Perhaps it has less to do with finding the right person/s and has everything to do with the framework that the relationship operates inside of. Perhaps my insights could benefit others too?
Why the word Anundabra?
The word appeared in my head one day while driving to the airport. It isn’t based on any other word or language that I am aware of. I wanted a new word to avoid the attachment of being compared to or arising from some other form or concept and have the ability to create a new conversation about what is possible from a relationship.
After several months of deep thinking, brainstorming, conversations and experimentations, here is the current version of the relationship framework, Anundabra:
Creating the context of the relationship
What is the purpose for the relationship? Fun and play? Creativity and self-expression? Passion and exploration? Support and encouragement? Growth and learning?
The context is not meant to be fixed or absolute but to serve as a guide.
Appreciating the circular, non-linear flow of life
There is a common narrative about relationships and how they develop that assumes a linear, past/present/future path, at the beginning is the “newness” phase where we focus on what we like about the other person and we overlook the other’s supposed flaws, then we rationalize the relationship with our column of pluses and minuses and if the relationship continues, eventually the “boredom phase” sets in. By appreciating the random, circular , non-linear flow of life, we have the possibility of freeing ourselves and creating a new narrative.
Be in the moment / the now, doing what feels good and fulfilling.
The achievement of having another should not be marked. Looking backward and forward in time can devalue and distort the moments of being together.
When a relationship is new, there is an emphasis on being together and doing what brings joy and satisfaction. Over time there is a tendency to shift focus to what the relationship possesses; anniversaries, momentos, families, assets like houses and retirement accounts that tend to shift the conversations from being / doing to having and that typically suffocates access to feelings of joy, lightness and happiness. i.e. Your money is your money. My money is my money. Your stuff is your stuff. My stuff is my stuff. We can choose to share if we so desire in however we way we choose or not.
Open and transparent communication regarding intimacy and sex, so that each understands the intentions of the other.
There is a growing list of relationship labels and some are associated with sexual activity; monogamy, polyamory, sapio, open…the challenge is that these labels tend to assume a sort of permanence when we are in fact temporal beings. It is well known that a significant percentage of relationships that believe they as monogamous, are in fact, not. More satisfying and expressive intimate relationship are available if we create the opening for transparent communication about this fundamental relationship issue.
Empower yourself to continually choose the relationship.
Relationships do not have to be “hard” and they don’t need to be worked on. They should be fully enjoyed and support an individual’s full self expression.
Choosing to be in the relationship is made by each individual, separate from the other, having the freedom to come and go as one pleases.
Keep your relationship label-free.
Labels are associated with a type of possession i.e.boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, spouse, lover, instead consider referring to each other by a term that frees each other from these possessive labels, such as friend.
It is, however, worth appreciating that others may not understand keeping your relationship label free so it is advisable to be comfortable sharing your relationship in a way that is empowering for you and provides a sense of understanding for others.
Avoid describing feelings that could be implied as being for the other.
The most overused and misunderstood example is “I love you”. When used appropriately, such as between parent and child, it is unconditional and without attachment. When used between adults in an intimate relationship, it typically comes with expectations and descriptions such as being “in” or “out” of it which can often create feelings of disappointment.
Dealing with Feelings of Jealousy.
We think having someone is the solution i.e. marriage, boyfriend/ girlfriend. It isn’t. It as a tool we use to turn off jealous thoughts.
It is impossible to know what another is thinking. It is impossible to know what another is thinking when they are doing what they are doing. Either way, it’s about them, not you.
You do know what you think. You do know what and how you feel.
The degree to which you’re honest with yourself will impact the freedom you enjoy being with others.
The degree to which you share with others what you do and why you do it is your choice. Ultimately what matters is the impact it has on being present and fully with others in this moment.
You are not a reflection of the other.
The belief that we are somehow a reflection of the other often stifles our freedom of full self expression, feeling that we need to live up to or inside of the expectations of the other.
The relationship that you will have for the rest of your life is with you. That relationship should always be your highest priority.
This idea is easily perceived as being selfish but if you love and care for yourself, you will likely find a natural flow of generosity, patience and kindness towards others. Intellectually people often agree with this idea but it typically requires a degree of trust to start and commit to this inward focus.
Time vs Moments.
We often measure relationships by their length in time, attributing those that last longer as being more successful or meaningful. However time is a lousy measure for assessing the quality of a relationship. What we want are moments. Moments leave an imprint on our memories, not the passing of time.
Ask questions, don’t look for answers.
Life, and relationships unfold with questions. They become smaller and constrained when we think we have the answers, for ourselves or the other.
Consider this framework an experiment.
Experiments produce breakthroughs if new thoughts, ideas and approaches are tried, you keep what works for you, feels right and throw out what doesn’t. Experiments don’t have to fail, they can inform, if you’re looking and listening for the output not the result.