Relationship Fitness

S16: Assess E3: The Relationship Workout Framework

In “Relationship Workout for Men,” Season 16 Episode 3 titled “The Relationship Workout Framework,” Vince continues his exploration into evaluating the quality of relationships, focusing on how one perceives their relationship through the lens of fun versus drama, as highlighted by the Relationship Quality equation. This episode serves as a bridge, summarizing the first twelve core areas discussed in previous seasons that are pivotal in either enhancing or diminishing relationship quality. Vince emphasizes that everyone contributes some level of drama, thus underscoring the importance of self-awareness and mutual effort in minimizing negative contributions to the relationship. The episode sets the stage for a deeper dive into assessing individual comfort levels with drama within a relationship, encouraging listeners to reflect on their thresholds for conflict and satisfaction, ultimately guiding them towards achieving a more harmonious and fulfilling partnership.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 16 Episode 3: The Relationship Workout Framework 

This is the second of three episodes where we explore answering the fundamental question: How good do you think your relationship is? 

In the previous episode, we made the point that how good you think your relationship is rests purely in your mind, and this perception is heavily influenced by the amount of fun versus drama you have together, as described by the Relationship Quality equation which equals the number of fun-filled moments versus the number of drama-filled moments.

Put simply, if you think you’re having a lot more drama than fun together, then you’ll likely think your relationship isn’t so great. On the other hand, if you think you’re having a lot more fun than drama, then you’re more likely to think your relationship is good to great. 

And since none of us our perfect, we’ll all contribute some level of drama into our relationship. So, in thinking about how good your relationship is it’s also helpful to understand how much of the drama you are contributing that is reducing the quality of your relationship.

Therefore, in this episode, we’ll summarize the first 12 Relationship core areas and fundamental questions addressed in each core area, as organized around the Relationship Workout Framework. Recall, these seasons were designed to help us explore our strengths and weaknesses, ultimately with the objective to help us reduce the amount of drama we contribute to our relationships. 

Again, the more drama we contribute, the worse we’ll likely think our relationship is.

Then in the next episode, we’ll transition to assess how good you think your relationship is based on your comfort level with the amount of drama in your relationship. It’s important to remember that everyone has a unique threshold for the amount of relationship drama they can handle, which shapes our overall relationship satisfaction.

Okay, so let’s recap the 12 core areas, as described in the Relationship Workout Framework. 

Actually, the complete Relationship Workout Framework is organized around five steps:

  • Step 0: Wake Up!
  • Step 1: Compatible?
  • Step 2: Partner Material?
  • Step 3: How good is it really?
  • Step 4: Don’t Quit


Step 0: Wake Up!

So, starting with Step 0: Wake Up!

We make the fundamental point that no one and no relationship is perfect; there will be drama. You’ll contribute drama. She’ll contribute drama.

Of course, this does not give us a free license to infuse our personal problems (such as our Demons) into our relationship. Blame, blame, blame your partner for all the relationship problems. That’s most certainly a weak way to approach your relationship.

Also foundational to Relationship Workout is the point of view that us men need to stand up and take responsibility for when we bring drama into our relationships, as we learn to rid our Demons from our thoughts on the journey to being ever better partners. 

Demons show themselves as negative thinking. For instance, if you’re a big ball of impatient thoughts ready to roll over any happy moment at the smallest hint of things not going your way, then this impatience can end up squashing and sabotaging many happy moments. 

If the potential for conflict fills your head with so much fear that you cringe at the very hint of having to talk through an issue, then don’t be surprised if even the smallest of issues goes unresolved and ultimately sabotages what you might have together.

This is why the Relationship Workout Framework begins with Step 0: Wake Up! This initial step explores the role the mind can play in contributing drama into your relationship. I consider this step 0, as the work in this step ideally starts before dating begins.

So in this step 0, we have the first core area: Your Mind, as discussed in Season 2 where we explored answering the foundational question: Do you have control over your thoughts? 

As quick recap of season 2, we would do well to realize that life situations happen, and that you do have a choice of whether to turn them into drama and problems, or into issues that get resolved. Your ego will play a big role in this decision, as will your ability manage your Demons and accept What Is. Ultimately, being able to witness any negative thinking going on in your mind will help you in this process.

Negative thinking is often the work of one’s ego. An uncontrolled ego just can’t allow itself to be vulnerable. As a result, the ego can go on the offensive with the unshaken belief that it’s always right — perfect even. To admit to being wrong and, therefore, imperfect is just too scary for the ego to acknowledge. In addition, the ego will often think negative thoughts about other people and events, often through blame. Everyone else has it wrong, not me.

On the other hand, a controlled ego can be honest and look into the mirror, acknowledging and accepting that it is not perfect and that we live in an imperfect world. And that’s okay. This lays the foundation to learn from our experiences that point out weaknesses and then make the appropriate changes. 

Ultimately, the strong play is to feel at peace, truly appreciating all that you have. Your ego is under control as you realize it’s okay to make mistakes. Your thoughts are positive as you view life realistically and honestly from the foundation of a strong body and an aware mind. You realize that your glass is indeed well beyond half-full, should you choose it to be.

Step 1: Compatible?

Next, in the Relationship Workout Framework, we have Step 1: Compatible? In this step, we address the foundational question: How compatible are you two together? After all, incompatibilities can most certainly contribute to drama. For this reason, these core areas are highly relevant to the open dating stage.

In this step 1 are four core areas – chemistry, dating intentions, emotional availability and alignment – relevant to exploring how compatible you are with the person you’re dating or in a relationship with. 

Here’s a quick recap:

Core #2: Chemistry – whichis covered in season 3 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Do you two have true chemistry together?

After all, if there isn’t ongoing chemistry (beginning with physical attraction and growing into emotional intimacy) then issues can arise out of a feeling that something is missing a potential breeding ground for the grass-is-greener syndrome and quite frankly affairs. 

Put another way, sex and emotional intimacy are foundational human needs a described in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as discussed in Season 15, episode 9. A relationship devoid of chemistry can be a breeding ground for discontent and drama.

Core #3: Dating Intentions– which is covered in season 4 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Are you both looking for the same type of relationship?

After all, if you’re both looking for different type of relationships – for instance one person looking for a long-term partnership while the other just wants a non-committed roll in the hay – then this difference can lead to discontent and drama.

Core #4: Emotional Availability – which is covered in season 5 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Are you both ready to fall in love (again)?

After all, if one or both of you are not emotionally available, then one or both you won’t be ready to go deeper emotionally, and this can lead to drama. 

Core #5: Alignment – which is covered in season 6 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Do you want the same things in life? 

After all, if there is misalignment on fundamental core and elective must-have things that you both wants in your lives, then this can create issues and fuel drama driven by a feeling that something is missing.

Step 2: Partner Material?

Next, we move to step 2 in the Relationship Workout framework: Partner Material where we answer the foundational question: Are you two strong partners for each other?

In step 2 are seven core areas – kindness, integrity, ownership, anger, conflict, anxiety and communications – which are especially relevant to understanding how good partners you are together. 

Here’s a quick recap:

Core #6: Kindness – which is covered in season 7 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Do you care about each other’s needs?

Indeed, it’s not a far stretch to claim that partnership begins with showing kindness for one another. This includes being grateful for what each person brings to the relationship and showing you care about each other’s needs from a place of unselfishness. When one or both people play it all-about-ME, then drama can get created as one person can start to feel taken for granted and/or that his or her needs are not important to the other person.

Core 7: Integrity – which is covered in season 8 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Do you trust each other?

Of course, fundamental to a strong relationship is trust. When lacking, a whole host of self-created drama can emerge as actions and intentions are constantly questioned, regardless of whether there was untrustworthy behavior.

Core #8: Ownership – which is covered in season 9 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Do you both take responsibility for contributions to the issues impacting your relationship?

In resolving conflicts, the first and most critical step is mutual accountability. It’s the foundation for reaching a place of transparency where both partners can lay out the facts and understand each other’s role in the conflict. Without this shared responsibility, not only does resolution become elusive, but it also paves the way for further issues, such as resentment. After all, no one appreciates being wrongly blamed for every problem in a relationship. It’s about tackling the issues together, not pointing fingers.

Core #9: Anger – which is covered in season 10 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Does anger spark drama in your relationship?

Indeed, when either partner falls back on displays of weak anger, such as aggressive or passive, it only derails communication efforts, leading to disruptive outbursts rather than productive dialogue.

Core #10: Conflict – which is covered in season 11 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Do disagreements escalate into toxic drama?

In addition, the way you both engage in heated debates is a litmus test for your relationship’s strength. Do your challenging talks spiral into toxic drama brimming with contempt, defensiveness, or icy silence? Remember, it’s not about avoiding tough conversations; it’s about transforming them into opportunities for growth and understanding. So, how do you turn the tide of conflict and drama into constructive communication. In other words, how can you have what could be difficult conversations without creating drama?

Core #11: Anxiety – which is covered in season 12 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Does anxiety fuel drama in your relationship?

Dealing with anxiety can leave a person on edge and more prone to getting angry at even the smallest of things, raising the risk that differences can ignite into drama.

Core #12: Communication – which is covered in seasons 13, 14 and 15 – discusses how to answer the foundational relationship question: Can you two discuss and resolve issues with minimal drama?

Fundamental to resolving issues is the ability for two people to have effective conversations, regardless of how difficult the topics might be. Ineffective communication, in turn, can also spawn frustration and anger as you can go round and round and never get to the heart of the issue (or simply not talk at all). 

Okay, with that recap, and given all relationships will have some level of drama given none of us are perfect, in the next episode — How Much Drama is Too Much? — we turn our attention to answering the question of how good you think your relationship is by exploring your level of comfort with the amount of drama in your relationship and any accumulation of unresolved issues that are (potentially) contributing to this drama?

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