ERP 015: Do You Have A “Unity” Or “Journey” Mindset In Relationship?

By Posted in - Podcast May 14th, 2015 0 Comments

In a recent study, Lee and his colleagues looked at the impact of a “unity” mindset versus a “journey” mindset on relationship satisfaction. Participants were asked to take a quiz, which exposed them to common expressions. One group was given phrases that referenced the idea of soul mates: “we are one,” “my better half,” “made for each other.” The other group was given phrases that alluded to relationship as a journey: “we’ve walked together,” “a long trail,” “look how far we’ve come.” After completing the quiz, participants were asked to write down memories of good times or two memories of bad times in relationship. Then, participants were asked to rate their satisfaction level in relationship.

Coulple swing over waterParticipants who recalled a conflict after being primed to think soul mates said they were unhappier in their relationships, compared to those who’d been primed to think of their relationship as a journey. Here are some more results:

Unity                                                     Journey

  • Expectation that relationship means perfect harmony
  • See relationship as a journey
  • Difficulty getting over conflicts
  • Willing to talk through problems
  • Recalling conflicts makes them unhappy
  • Thinking differently about love leads to different ways of evaluating it
  • Put less effort into working through relationship conflict
  • It might seem hard right now, but things will get better
  • Conflicts hurt relationship satisfaction
  • Conflict is seen as a learning opportunity
  • More likely to split
  • More likely to work through challenges

When it gets hard:

There are five stages to the developmental process of a long-term intimate relationship. Most couples do not develop beyond the power struggle phase. One reason for this is we are often ineffective in the ways we deal with conflict (i.e. fighting, avoiding, trying to change, etc.). When doubt seeps in, we start to question and worry. Another reason is we don’t have a model or path of how to deal with conflict successfully.

What about the romance?

John Welwood, years ago wrote a book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships (*Amazon Affiliate link). He did a wonderful job of articulating the fact that love is pure and perfect. It is our relationships that are not perfect, as we are often fallible and imperfect in our learning process.

Relationship encompasses many experiences and types of love. A relationship can include friendship as well as the more ecstatic states of bonding, connection, and intimacy. Our experience of love may have more to do with how present, open, and available we are at any given moment.

What is my mindset?

Couple holding hand looking over landscape at sunsetAsking questions from a problem mindset will get you problem focused answers. Asking questions that look for opportunities will get you solution focused answers. Are you asking the right questions?

Do you see love as something that happens to you? Or do you take an active role in cultivating and fostering love?

In relationship, are you more “results driven” or “process driven”? Whatever orientation and focus you have will greatly impact your approach to love and relationship. 

Here is a quiz you can take to learn more about your mindset.


  • What challenge am I experiencing right now in relationship?
  • How am I evaluating this challenge ?  What is the story that I am telling myself? Am I looking through a problem focused lens?
  • If I had a growth (or journey) mindset, would I think differently about the situation?
  • Would anything change if I looked at the challenge as a learning opportunity? Or is there any learning for me in this experience?

Stay tuned. I am super excited about a video series that I am offering in the next couple of weeks to launch my online relationship course.

If you have a topic that you would like me to discuss or a situation that you would like me to speak to, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for being interested in improving the quality of your relationship.

Also, I would so appreciate your honest rating and review, if you would be willing to click here.

Thank you!

*With Amazon Affiliate Links, I may earn a few cents from Amazon, if you purchase the book from this link.

Please leave a Comment

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication

Shifting Criticism For Connected Communication.

Stop the criticism loop, learn new ways to communicate
and strengthen the connection with your partner.


Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching