Entering into unity with your partner–what Dr. Charlotte Kasl calls “the usness place”–is the 4th and most evolved stage of healthy relationships.
What is unity?
Unity is a closeness between two fully integrated people who are separate yet engaged in a shared enterprise. It’s kind of like mixing two separate substances into something new, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Each partner is true to their own life dreams while also taking on board their partners.
In unity, there is no longer a sense of “me vs. you” during conflicts. Instead, each partner joins together and steps back from conflict with both partners’ needs in mind: “I see you want x and I want z. How can we navigate this together? Is there a way we can both get what we want?”
Even if an issue isn’t solved right away, the questions are lived from a sense of being on the same team.
If we are in unity with our partner, we are acutely interested in what helps the other thrive. In unity, we know that if each of partner is able to fulfill their life path, then the rewards for both are exponential.
Below are a few things you can do to support unity in your relationship.
How to stay in unity:
- Always speak non-defensively. Speaking defensively creates an automatic “Me vs. You” mentality. (See if you are using any of the common defensive tactics here).
- Validate each other. This means letting your partner know that you understand them. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes, imagine how it must look or feel coming from where they have been. This requires empathy.
- Commit to Co-creativity: Dr. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks define this as the process in which two people access more of their creativity as a result of their loving interaction with each other. When the relationship is in harmony, each person benefits from an enhanced energy that allows each to make a greater contribution than either one could have made alone.
- Learn to NOT deflect positive energy. Notice the ways in which you may not allow positive energy to remain in between you. The ultimate goal of all healthy relationships is to keep good energy flowing at all times.
- Distinguishing thoughts from feelings. Talk about your feelings in reaction to something, as opposed to making meaning or positioning yourself logically. Instead of saying: “But that is not true!” you could say instead “I feel scared when you say that.”
- Learn the mindset of “Us.” From this mindset, you think about what you want while at the same time automatically considering any possible impact you have on your partner. Has she been home alone with a young child all day? Does he need some alone time with you?
- Never take your partner for granted. This means tending to your relationship on a regular basis. Not because we should, but because we like bringing joy to our partner. And we know we reap the benefits of this as well.
- Repeatedly ask yourself this question: Am I creating separateness or closeness? Our relationship is an ecosystem in which everything effects everything else. Notice the effect you have. If you are feeling critical, look into your partners eyes, see the reaction, and be aware of what you are afraid of.
- Avoid unilateral announcements or decisions. These types of decisions trap your partner into the double bind of compliance or defiance. This applies to minor decisions as well as major decisions. For example, you walk into the room where your partner is reading and turn on a show. Your partner is put in the position of either putting up with it or saying “I really don’t want the television on,” which could be the start of conflict, however small.
- Look for the positive intention in your partner. In every conflict there is a positive intention. What is your partner seeking? Is it understanding?