walking-280x300Taking turns is something we learn at a very early age. If there is only one of something or only room for one person to be doing a thing at a time, then we have to take turns. That means we have to both wait for it to be our turn and relinquish things when our turn is done. There is a lot of focus out there in the world on “my turn.” You know “When will it be my turn?” or “When do I get to focus on me?” Some people wait for signs that now is the time, others wait for the people in their lives to realize it’s their turn now, and still others live forever without ever having taken their turn.  There are now people taking the brave step to say, “I’m not waiting.  Now it’s my turn.”

One major problem in relationships is that the couple loses track of turn taking. Taking turns is predicated on an understanding of equality between the people sharing. It’s the underlying lesson we learn as children, others are just as important as we are, they have a right to the same things we like and want, and life is better when we interconnect through sharing.  Sharing purpose, sharing interests, sharing tasks can lead to deeper sharing and who knows where things might go. 😉  The problem comes when the sharing somehow changes from turn taking to “What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine and what I want is what we want because we’re in this together.”

I like to think of a healthy couple like feet.  While one is lifting up and moving forward such as creating a business, taking on a degree(s), or entering into a new career, the other is firmly planted on the ground keeping things balanced. If the other partner starts lifting while the first one is still moving, then the whole thing falls over and becomes a mess. Unfortunately what tends to happen is that the first foot sets down, but doesn’t want to let go of the need to move forward. It refuses to allow a weight shift claiming that it needs just a few more months, a couple more years, and then things will be in a place where the other foot can move forward. But that time never comes and over the years the other foot never gets their turn. The message becomes that everything about their life should be in support of the front foot moving even farther forward. Their moving forward is good for the entire person so all efforts should be focused there. This is why when people say a couple split up I immediately think of someone accidentally doing the splits and how painful that is.

A couple who can take turns in careers, in interests, in life goals will usually go far. Those who can’t will at best limp along. However sometimes the way for a person to finally take their turn is to walk away.