The Relationship Dance

A couple of years ago, we decided to learn how to dance. We took lessons in Ballroom and Latin style and soon found that whilst it was challenging to co-ordinate our steps, there was a lot of fun and laughter! We even perfected our own unique steps which we called the ‘Captain Jack Waltz’ (talk to us if you want more details!)

It became apparent as we ‘took the starting hold’ that the dance was an interesting metaphor for a model we had been developing about how couples advance and retreat within their relationship. It gave us ideas about creating a balance point where a purposeful partnership could move ‘to and fro’ in harmony and synchrony.

It has always fascinated us that when we run training courses together, we often hear the same comments from our audiences. People are keen to know if we argue or compete with each other; they wonder if we score points off one another!

We found this very puzzling as it didn't fit our shared map. We work collaboratively, building on ideas together. We also genuinely admire one another and enjoy observing the other succeed.

This difference between our map and the expectations of many others triggered a curiosity within us. We wondered what patterns were running in our relationship and what patterns were being ‘projected’ our way by others.

This led to us researching various models of relationship in different schools of psychology. Particularly influential was the work of John Gottman and his Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. This model describes many of the behaviours our audiences were expecting to see when a couple worked together (i.e. dysfunctional!)

Building on our research we began to see a set of alternative patterns that could be useful for people wanting to improve their relationships and/or change unhealthy patterns. This model became the ‘Counter Horsemen’ and then the ‘Hierarchy of Relationship’.

In our conference seminar we will introduce some of our foundation models from the Relationship Dance and give you a chance to try out some processes to identify your own frames and to explore how to begin the transformation process...

By Joe and Melody Cheal