rad.i.cal (adjective): very different from the usual or traditional
Most couples don’t want an ordinary, boring, routine relationship. They want excitement, fun, closeness, love.
When we get married we make vows to be together until death do us part. That’s a long time, and sadly, half of marriages don’t or can’t keep that commitment. We have a dream or vision of how we want our life together to be. We become unhappy if we’re too far off track from that dream. If we don’t believe our dream is possible we feel hopeless, stuck, and eventually leave the marriage mentally, emotionally, and often physically.
The current marriage rate is at an all time low (51%) and 44% of millenials believe that marriage is obsolete. And who can blame them? Looking around at their parents marriage and others, they see more downsides than benefits. Thankfully, as they mature their attitude towards marriage gets warmer. More here
While traditional marriage may be on the decline, marriage has many benefits and an important role in our society, but it’s clear that it’s time for marriage to evolve. We need a new paradigm for marriage as a clear path to happiness and fulfillment, rather than shackles holding us back from living life to the fullest.
When “Good” Isn’t Good Enough
We need comfort and security. When our life or relationship is challenging, this becomes our goal and priority. But when our life is “good” together, then what? When we don’t move, we atrophy. Our nature is to continue evolving and the comfort and security we craved earlier can result in boredom and even unhappiness.
Given our nature and the reality that things constantly change, enthusiastically embracing change and evolution as an adventure seems to be the key to happiness and fulfillment, and resisting change seems to almost guarantee eventual misery.
Happiness vs. Fulfillment
It’s fascinating that what made us happy before eventually becomes no longer good enough. This is because there’s a difference between “happiness” and “fulfillment.” Happiness is transient and what makes you “happy” can change from moment to moment, while “fulfillment” is about meeting deeper needs and is more lasting.
But what are these deeper needs? We need to be loved, and we need to express love. We need comfort and security but we also need variety and excitement. We need meaning and purpose, even if we don’t know what that is.
We need to grow and evolve, even though change is stressful and challenging. We need rest and relaxation, and we need to be active, busy and productive. Fulfillment seems to demand continuous conscious awareness, intention, effort, and learning, and there doesn’t seem to be a neat formula that says “Do THIS and you’ll live happily ever after!”
Marriage is a Journey, Not a Destination
With our complex needs and constant evolution it seems that how we walk together is more important than how we sit together. Being willing to take a risk seems to be more important than seeking comfort. Embracing the journey into the unknown seems to be the key to a lasting, fulfilling, “radical” marriage.
So, What is a “Radical Marriage”?
What does a Radical Marriage look like? No-one really knows because this is largely uncharted territory and individual for each couple. You can see glimpses in other couple relationships when they seem incredibly connected and in love, long after their honeymoon. These are the couples that inspire you to think “I want to be like THAT!”
Have you ever had that experience?
Do you know any couples like that?
When you step into the unknown and view your life and marriage as a constantly evolving adventure, you’re always living a bit on the edge, pushing the envelope just a little bit each day. Just like good physical health requires some discipline to eat well and exercise regularly, a Radical Marriage seems to require continual effort by BOTH partners in these five areas:
Five Keys to a Radical Marriage
1. Radical Commitment: Beyond your marriage vows, you both are absolutely, 100% committed to your marriage, no matter what and you are as committed to your partner’s happiness as your own. You each take 100% responsibility for the relationship, your experience in the relationship, and your outcomes. More here
2. Radical Intimacy: You are completely transparent to your partner, don’t hold anything back, and share all your thoughts, feelings, wants, needs, fantasies and desires. More here
3. Radical Romance: You continually express your love, appreciation, attraction and adoration for your partner in words and actions and don’t take your relationship for granted or allow passion to be replaced by routine. More here
4. Radical Sex: Beyond satisfying physical urges, you consciously seek and experience emotional, physical, and spiritual connection every day, continually exploring new ways to express love and pleasure your partner and allowing yourself to be loved and pleasured. More here
5. Radical Living: Beyond survival and comfort, you consciously design your lifestyle together, develop your shared vision and goals, devote time and resources to realizing your dreams in each moment together as well as prioritizing your goals and preparing for your future. You are aware of how short your time is on this planet and savor each precious moment of life and being together.
Is a Radical Marriage For You?
Radical Marriage isn’t for everyone. It requires a strong relationship, so if your marriage is struggling, focusing on functional basics must be your priority (a good place to start is here). A Radical Marriage requires a willingness to take risks, overcome resistance and experience a bit of fear, which can induce stress and anxiety when you’re more wired for comfort and security. It requires inviting and embracing evolution and change, which is against the grain for those who crave routine. It requires TWO willing participants, so if your partner isn’t on the same page, that’s where you must start. It requires growth, effort, and learning; while strongly desired by some, others would rather watch TV, drink beer, and fall asleep on the couch. If you’re still reading this, chances are good that a Radical Marriage is for you!
Radical Marriage is for couples with a good relationship who strongly believe that they are together for a reason, which is to experience life to the fullest through their relationship.
David Steele, MA, MFT, CPC is a Marriage and Family Therapist who fell in love with coaching and in 1997 founded Relationship Coaching Institute, the first and largest international relationship coach training organization. He’s the author of the ground-breaking book for singles Conscious Dating: Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life That You Love and Radical Marriage: Your Relationship as Your Greatest Adventure. Twice divorced, at age 50 he found and married his soulmate Darlene, and together they sold their house and are living their dreams of adventure on their sailboats in Puget Sound and San Francisco Bay. David and Darlene have five grown children between them and love being grandparents. Together they train and support relationship coaches through Relationship Coaching Institute. Grateful for finding each other later in life, they are strongly passionate about helping singles over 40 find lasting love.