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How to Play Polarity Jazz in Your Relationship

communication power Mar 08, 2023


It's invisible. It's unconscious.

But polarity -- the play of oppositional forces -- exists everywhere in our relationship.

Take messiness. In most couples, one partner occupies the messy side of the polarity, leaving dishes in the sink and dirty laundry on the floor. The other occupies the cleanliness side, trying desperately to keep things tidy.

Take connection. In most couples, one partner is typically the glommer, the one who leans in and wants more love, attention, and time together. The other partner often plays the role of the splitter, tending to subtly pull away.

Take a close look at your relationship and you'll find polarity everywhere. You'll find polarities around mental health (who's happy/unhappy), exercise and eating habits (who's indulgent/disciplined), parenting (who's strict/lenient), sex (who initiates), work habits (who works more/less), energy (who has more/less), money (who spends/saves), and on and on.

Anytime one of you moves to an extreme, polarity is likely to arise. The other partner unconsciously seeks to create balance by moving in the opposite direction.

Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with polarities. They can create attraction, energy, and relationship balance.

But they can also create rigidity and hide new possibilities. We can get so stuck in these unconscious polarities that we forget that it's possible to play jazz with them -- to explore what happens when we venture beyond them and into the unknown.

How can you play polarity jazz in your relationship?




1. Start with awareness.

This is the first step in shifting any relationship pattern. Change is only possible in the light of awareness.  

So have a conversation with your partner. Ask:

          "What are the polarities we unconsciously fall into?"

This will help you begin to see these patterns arising in real time. 


2. Play with polarity switching.

Now for the fun part. See what happens when you intentionally flip one or more of these polarities.

If your partner always initiates intimacy, for example, run a month-long experiment where you initiate. If your partner is the messy one, run an experiment where you play with leaving a mess every once in a while. 

These experiments can liberate a huge amount of stuck energy. They can also open up new possibilities. You and your partner may begin to see novel ways of arranging your time, your energy, and your life together that you couldn't see before.


3. Keep your generosity radical.

As you know from our book, The 80/80 Marriage, mindset is everything. This is especially true when running an experiment like this one.

If your intention arises from a place of resentment or settling the score, you will end up weaponizing this experiment (or any relationship tool for that matter). Polarity switching will inevitably result in more conflict and resentment.

So if you're going to play with polarities, do it out of a mindset of love and radical generosity. 

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