As a therapist and life transition coach, I’ve worked with many couples struggling with relationship issues. Most often, the issues revolve around ineffective communication, mistrust, the need for power and control, and the quest to be right.
In order to have a loving and thriving relationship, a couple needs to have a good energy flow and synergy. But it can be hard for people to know where to start when creating this type of synergy with one another, especially if they’re already facing relationship problems.
But the 5 C’s can help when used as a guide. Each of these C’s is important and will enhance all the others. They also offer opportunities to improve the level of respect and trust ,and boost the feeling of being valued, understood, and supported in the relationship.
Follow the 5 C’s of lasting relationships for a seriously deep love.
Chemistry is the natural and mutual flow between each other. It’s not just about physical or sexual attraction; in fact, chemistry is about so much more than that.
A big part of chemistry is the desire to know more about the other person. In this desire to know more, you are truthful with each other — being open, curious, accepting, and respectful, even playful, as you interact together.
You acknowledge the connection and spark between you, and allow it to unfold with honesty, openness, and willingness. You are also mindful of the possibilities the relationship offers while being patient and attentive to the process of coming together.
Having chemistry in a relationship is important, but it’s not helpful if there aren’t certain aspects. For instance, you cannot have a deep relationship if it’s based solely on chemistry; rather, a true bond requires a more meaningful connection than just an attraction.
What to watch out for: Focusing too much on expectations and/or outcomes, as this disrupts the natural flow, energy, and synergy between the two of you.
2. Common goals
Goals give our lives meaning and value. Developing shared direction and goals offers your relationship deeper meaning and connection. But it’s more than enjoying the same TV shows or music.
Common goals include what you envision for your present and future — 5, 10, even 20 years down the road. Unconditional love and conscious relationships allow for individual goals and needs, but with equal importance to the value of shared desires and goals.
A lasting relationship is one where both parties share the same goals, yes, but also the same morals and plan for now and later. You are sharing your life together, after all.
What to watch out for: Be aware of not letting individual goals diminish common goals. Competing goals and directions create tension and conflict and set you up for conditional love. The key is balancing the two.
A relationship commitment is the agreement to love and be open, accepting, and faithful to your partner. The true intent of Commitment is to create increased satisfaction, understanding, flexibility, connection, and choice. It is the conscious choice to put your energy toward the relationship, not just the “self.”
Commitment is the willingness to give of the self, without losing the self in the commitment.
We choose to surrender to love. In this way, surrender is not about losing or giving in/up. This type of surrender helps us gain or benefit much more than we would lose or need to give up. Its intent is to complement or enhance the self in a relationship.
What to watch out for: Avoiding commitment, or surrendering to love, because of fear. Committing can be difficult for some people because it can take you out of your comfort zone.
The following list can be reasons why a person can be fearful, avoid, and/or struggle with commitment.
- You perceive and believe the personal “self” will be threatened or intimidated because of the commitment.
- If one perceives and believes that making a commitment is risky, the sacrifice will result in losing more than will be gained.
- A perception and belief of loss of personal and/or professional freedom.
- If you need certainty, a commitment can seem like stepping into the unknown, creating uncertainty and a feeling of loss of control.
- Feeling of vulnerability, that my partner will discover my flaws and weakness, and not see me as good enough.
- A damaging experience from a past relationship, where either you or your partner were traumatized, taken advantage of, rejected, betrayed or humiliated.
There are times in a relationship when one partner (intentionally or not) says or does something that impacts the other in a negative or hurtful way. It may not be purposely, but the damage can be significant.
We can be triggered by this and go emotionally unconscious. We get reactive, defensive, or passive (which causes us to shut down). When this happens, communication can get confusing, distorted, and misunderstood.
A big part of effective communication is to stay aware — to respond, not react, and to seek to understand the other. That means listening and seeking to understand, and asking questions for clarification so you can increase understanding.
When you feel listened to and understood, you feel validated and valued. Good communication enhances trust and connection, and also leads to more effective problem-solving when conflict arises. When you think about communicating with your partner, you surely respond more effectively to certain phrases and tone of voice.
To make that easier, be as clear as you can in your expression of needs and intentions. Try speaking in terms of “I,” not so much “You.” Doing so will make sure your partner understands that you are coming from a positive place.
What to watch out for: Another cause of poor communication is assuming or expecting someone to be able to read your mind. This only leads to misunderstanding, confusion, mistrust, and conflict.
Good communication strikes a healthy balance between the goal/our intention and the relationship. We often want to be heard more than to listen. The biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand. We listen to the reply.
If we focus more on our reply, we’re not focused and listening to the other person, so we won’t really understand them. We are more focused on them needing to understand us.
Also watch out for: Times when you or your partner are too focused on the goal, because you will likely be more aggressive and demanding in the communication process.
If you are too concerned with the relationship (i.e., don’t want to hurt their feelings or cause conflict), you will likely be more passive and/or passive-aggressive in your expression and actions of your needs.
Neither the aggressive nor passive communication style is healthy or productive. The aggressive communication approach is you win/your partner loses. The passive approach is you lose/your partner wins. Thus, relationship cooperation and consensus become an ongoing challenge.
Consensus is the result of a conscious and unconditional relationship. It is about cooperation — seeking a win-win outcome. Consensus keeps in mind the importance of both the goal and the relationship. It allows for mutual opinions and different ways of being, through dialog, negotiation, and compromise.
Consensus requires effective and respectful communication skills, flexibility, and openness to understand the other’s point of view; while expressing your own view. It requires the ability and willingness to find the common ground. Honoring your individual differences and working with your similarities helps build consensus.
What to watch out for: Consensus can become a struggle to achieve if the need to have power over someone or the need to be right is dominant. Shared responsibility and accountability are key to creating consensus.
Relationships, like life, change, and situations happen that can impact any of these C’s in unproductive ways. So being aware of how life situations can impact these C’s is vital, and that awareness is an act of love, caring, and concern for the relationship — and for the two of you within it.
David Schroeder, LMSW, CPC from Grand Rapids, MI., is a licensed social worker, certified life coach, and author of “Just Be Love: Messages on the Spiritual and Human Journey.”