How Your Inside Relationships Impact Your Marriage?
Let’s Get to Know Your Seven Relationship Levels – Part 2
What relationships do you have?
Allow me to reiterate how important this exercise is. With this exercise you get to introduce your most important person to your entire world. Who else is a better candidate to know the people who make up your entire existence and philosophy for living. In our previous installment, we provided you with a way to see what we call your “outside relationships, which are the first three, no four, levels of relationships. In this installment, we will take a look at the “inside” relationships.
The Inside Relationships
We call them this because the relationships beyond level three impact you more inwardly than they do outwardly. These are the relationships that help you process, develop values and make life decisions. While your outside relationships are applying pressure from an external perspective, it’s the inside relationships that help you understand what’s happening in the world around you and how to deal with it. These are the people who can get in your head. We will lay out the last four relationship levels and this concept will get a whole lot clearer.
- Relationship Level 4 – Inner Circle.
Level four relationships are friends who are more involved in your life and are much harder to get rid of than just a regular friend. We often refer to these few individuals as your inner circle. They are the ones you’ve chosen to befriend and they’ve chosen you to befriend. In this case it takes two breaks to separate you from the people who fall into this category. These are the people you can have a disagreement with today, but will show up for you tomorrow.
Your inner circle and your significant other’s inner circle is really a small group. It’s important to know who these people are. For they are the ones your spouse will run to when they have nowhere else to run. In most cases, these are the people who’ve been in your life far longer than any others in the levels of relationships. I would say that in this category you will have 3-5 people at best who qualify to be in your inner circle.
Sit down with each other and share the names of those who you call your inner circle. Tell the stories that your inner circle would laugh at, and cry over. Help your spouse get to know your inner circle by telling some of your stories. You see, I have a friend and we often tell the story about how we went together to raise someone from the dead. True story. Needless to say, it didn’t turn out how we wanted it too, but it’s a story we get to share with our spouses. Share as many inner circle stories as you can with each other.
- Relationship Level 5 – Closest Friend.
A level five relationship is when the relationship category begins to happen less often. In other words, from this level and higher there won’t be many that will ever reach this level of relationship with you. This is your closest friend. It’s the person who you can talk with about the most challenging and horrific incidents that occur. A level five relationship consists of that person who, not only you chose and who chose you, but the person who accepts you as you. They’re okay with you being you without the mask covering the undesirable parts of you. This is that person who still loves you when you’re at your lowest and will care for you when you can’t care for yourself.
Your significant other needs to know who this is. In fact, if I were your significant other, I’d make nice with this person because it’s this person’s opinion that matters the most. I recall the day Pamela and I were married. My brother who holds such a position with me called me early that morning. I was returning from getting my hair cut. When I saw his number my heart sank. I couldn’t imagine what he wanted other than to tell me not to go through with the wedding. If he’d said that to me, it would have been a very bad, sad day. That’s what we call your closest friend. That person who can alter your life by what they say. Who is your closest friend? Your level five relationship is that person who can say something to you and you trust them so much that you’d do it.
- Relationship Level 6 – Equal Partner.
I can only guess that you’ve been wondering where you fit in, in the seven levels of relationships. Now let’s talk about your level, level six. At this level, we establish a relationship that’s a life-partnership. Not only does this person impact you from the inside, you also impact them inwardly as well.
Level six relationships are probably the most misunderstood. This level should occur in marital relationships. Half the time or greater it doesn’t. When you merge your lives together, you also merge the previous relationship levels together to some degree. In fact, a person at any relationship level with your spouse becomes a person in one of your relationship levels. They may not place at the same level, but they should be someone in your list.
The note I need to make here is that relationship level six is very high on the relationship pyramid and there’s only one position higher (we will get to that in a moment). This means that everyone belonging to level six is above the other six levels. You are higher than any other relationship in the life of your spouse. If this gets out of place, problems will occur. If you treat level one as if they are level six, you’ll have an issue. Have you heard of a spouse getting upset with their spouse because of their mother? Someone has placed mother (level zero) on level six (equal partner). I am sure you can see how this can be an issue.
I’m not sure if you noticed this or not, but your children by the definition of the levels of relationship will fall at level zero. That means your children don’t have a spot in your level six. Level six is reserved for you and your spouse alone. As soon as you allow another into this level and the number rises above two people at level six, issues are sure to arise.
- Relationship Level 7 – The One on Your Throne.
This relationship level is often misunderstood. It’s not difficult to understand once we explain. We refer to it as the person who sits on the throne. What throne? The throne of your life. In other words, who is calling the shots in your life? Who is that person you answer two? I know you’d like to say your spouse, but be real. If I answered to my spouse, then divorce would never occur. This means someone else calls the shots. For most, they have not identified their level seven relationship and the truth is we all have one.
It’s this level that every person needs, in order to be successful at any of the other levels. Because I’m a person of faith, I’d like to say this is God, but in most cases it’s not. It’s the person you esteem the most; their words matter. This is that person who can tell you what to do and you respect them so greatly you do it whether you agree, disagree, want to, or hate to, but you do. I know people who have their grandmother (Madea) in this spot. If she says it, then it’s final. Maybe it’s your boss at work. Could it be your mom or dad? You need to know who this is so that your spouse isn’t surprised when you’ve been given directives by this person that supersedes what the two of you have agreed to or possibly may not have agreed to. Who’s in your relationship level seven position?
The goal is to make sure each person is in their respective relationship level. This exercise is intended to help each person in the marriage see who’s who and to make certain they understand their place (for lack of a better word) in the relationship. I hope you’ve gained wisdom from this exercise, you will need to revisit it often to ensure that your relationships at every level are respected as such.
Assignment: What is love? Give your definition of what love is.
For our next lesson, we will need to answer this question. What is love? What does love mean to you? So often we use this term, but it means different things for every person. Therefore we need to get a better understanding of what love is. So before we meet again, take a moment and draft your definition of the word LOVE.