H. Laurence Schwab, M.F.T.

Navigating Your Relationship

Goldilocks and integrity

As a couple, are you experiencing a lot of tension? This is not all that original, but there could be a way to apply the Goldilocks principle to your cherished relationship.

Remember the curious and confident Goldilocks, exploring the lair of the Three Bears. Each time she came to a difficult decision, such as what to eat, where to sit, or where to rest, she weighed the extremes, emphatically rejected them, and chose the middle ground and said it was “just right.” Perhaps she just had a natural sense of balance.

Imagine what it would be like to manage your partnership with the same nimble sensibility. For instance, if one parent is consistently punitive, angry and reactive about a child’s behavior and the other is consistently accepting, passive, and accommodating about the same behavior, there is an in-between response from both parents that may be “just right.” Or, if one of you is always inclined to spend money freely, and the other never inclined to risk spending much money, it may be the momma bear response that makes the most sense for you as a couple. Or, if one of you talks much more than the other, or does things much more quickly than the other, or takes charge much more often than the other, what you may both want is a middle ground that features a balanced conversation, or both of you operating at the same speed, or a sense of shared responsibilities. This takes hard work, clarity about what your desires are, flexibility, and attentive listening to each other to create that sense of balance, synthesis, or integration.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see yourself as practicing integrity in your daily life, and have others get the impression that you have that quality? It takes self-control and awareness to catch yourself when you are inclined to make an impulsive radical exaggerated decision and consider a balanced one. You can take care of yourself and the impression you make on others by trying to have the integrity to integrate opposite or extreme urges as you create your own behavior.

One of the benefits when you make these intentional choices is that you feel like you have controlled something (yourself) when you feel like there is chaos breaking out around you. Trying the Goldilocks principle may be your quickest way to feel like you have mastered the situation, and enhanced your partnership at the same time. Just as Aristotle advocated for finding the middle ground, and Georg Hegel wrote about the dialectic and synthesis, it makes good sense to seek just the right balance in all aspects of your personal life. It’s worth the effort.

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