In a past post T is for Transition, we explored four areas where transitions are so important in your life when it comes to you and your relationship. A great transition means you are attending to your mind, body, and soul in a way that lights you up like the sun on the inside. This helps you to move or “transition” into different areas in your life with more energy and openness. Transitions include when going from the day-to-day when transitioning into the bedroom, when moving through physical or sexual play in the bedroom, and transitioning out of the bedroom back to your day-to-day. To dive deeper into the importance of transitions, I want to emphasize a very key element of WHY transitions are important and this has to do with the “E” part of the ARE acronym. Let’s explore what ARE means.
ARE You There?
When you transition from one thing to another, it is important to have all three components of the acronym ARE, which stands for Available, Reliable, and Engaged. This very helpful acronym was developed by the wonderful Sue Johnson, the founder of the therapy approach I often use called Emotionally Focused Therapy (which I think is totally magic but we can go into that on a different day). She has some great books for couples to check out if you want to learn more Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and also Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships.
Available at the basic level is simply just showing up. Which means asking yourself if you are being intentional and prioritizing things on your calendar so that you can show up for you and your relationship. This includes things like self-care, emotional date night, and your Intentional Intimacy night. To understand the ARE, let’s consider an example of having date nights with your partner. Availability would mean you are not only actually putting it on your calendar, but you show up to your date night. Not showing up means you aren’t available. Seems pretty simple right?
Ok, so you are putting date night in your calendar (or whatever activity you are wanting to be intentional about) and you are showing up, but are you doing so consistently? When we show up for the important things in our lives we want to make sure we are not doing so sporadically. This is not the intentional way. Intentionality means you are not only taking action but consistent action. So yes, putting date night on the calendar once in a while means you are checking off the Available part of ARE, but reliability is not there.
When it comes to reliability, I understand you have a lot of other things to do, we are all busy. But, that doesn’t give you an excuse to not be consistent. Sorry for the tough love my dear. So ask yourself, what can you consistently say yes to that is realistic. Perhaps right now a weekly date night seems unrealistic and the yes to consistency will quickly crumble. That doesn’t mean you throw your hands in the air and say “well I guess date night is never going to happen.” Instead, ask yourself what you can say yes to and then build from there. If that means monthly consistent date nights, great! Then you can slowly move toward more frequency. But it's not all about the frequency, we want quality over quantity, which leads to the las piece of ARE.
With Availability and Reliability in check, you want to make sure a KEY piece of the recipe is there - Engaged. No, this doesn’t mean you getting a ring on your finger. This means that when you are showing up to whatever you are wanting to show up for, which in our example it’s date night but it can be your exercise, journaling, Intentional Intimacy time, etc, you are showing up as fully present as you can be. Since you are making an effort to show up then you want to fully show up.
This means that with date night you are actually having a conversation, perhaps with the aid of a cute book like the one I use: One Question a Day for You & Me: Daily Reflections for Couples: A Three-Year Journal, and does NOT mean you are on your phone the whole time. It also doesn’t mean that your mind is thinking about that project at work. Or that your house is a mess and you should be cleaning it instead. When you set an intention to reliably be available to show up, honor yourself and your partner by fully being present. THIS is why transitions are so key. They help you to be fully present when you do show up. Think of it like having a bedtime routine, it signals the mind that you are getting ready for sleep so that you can fully be engaged in your sleep, rather than your mind wandering off.
A transition routine applies to all areas of your life, not just when preparing for sleep. By having a transition routine into whatever activity you want to transition into, you prepare your mind, body, and soul for the new activity. When you do this, you can show up fully engaged. This emphasizes the importance of quality over quantity because if we show up all the time but not fully engaged then our cups aren’t filled. So you want to fill up fully present, fully there, with all of you. Which is better for everyone and especially when you’re busy, you don’t have time to waste so make the time you set aside truly and fully count.
Let me know in the comments below what helps you to be more engaged when you show up for what matters most to you. What gets in the way?
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