In This Article
- Wearing a black suit and tie contrast against a freshly pressed white shirt, Martin Luther King Jr edged his way to the podium.
- Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
- How do structure and spontaneity relate to marriage?
- 1. The Emotional Benefits of Structure
- 2. How Structure and Spontaneity Flow Together
- 3. How to Create Spontaneity
- What’s Next
Wearing a black suit and tie contrast against a freshly pressed white shirt, Martin Luther King Jr edged his way to the podium.
It was August 28, 1963. Hot and sultry in Washington DC.
As one writer put it, ‘King stuck close to his prepared text…” He was the 17th speaker of the day. People were tired. They had come expecting something moving. Stirring. They were waiting on King to speak.
As he was winding up, longtime friend and gospel singer
Mahalia Jackson cried out: “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin.”
King continued with his planned speech.
Jackson again said, ‘Tell ’em about the dream!’
As if on cue, King set aside his text and began what many people consider one of the most powerful speeches in American history.
He launched into his ‘I have a dream’ oration.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
I recently listened to a podcast by Sean D’Souza. He talked about Martin Luther King Jr’s skill at preaching.
King cultivated and develop that skill over years of practice. He outlined and manuscript his sermons. Then he memorized and practice them.
He did this year after year until he became a great orator.
It is interesting that his most famous talk was one that veered from his prepared text.
Some would deny that it was complete improvisation; he had alluded to ‘the dream’ in other talks. But this was different.
This was emotional. Delivered from the heart. Powerful. Moving.
What made this speech so powerful? Why was it different?
I’m sure there are many reasons.
One thing stands out; He was able to do this because of the years of practice and refining his skill of public speaking. King was a master at communication skills. He knew the principles of connecting people to his message. This allowed him the ability to go ‘off script’ when necessary.
How do structure and spontaneity relate to marriage?
In this article we will look at three issues related to spontaneity in marriage:
1. The Emotional Benefits of Structure
2. How Structure and Spontaneity Flow Together
3. How To Create Spontaneity
It’s safe to say we all want a great marriage.
Marriage is like music. As music, we want it to be like great jazz. I love jazz music because of its improvisation. No jazz player sounds like another.
But all jazz music is built on the same structure.
We fail to realize the greatest improvisation [spontaneity] is built on structure.
What Do We Mean By Structure in a Marriage?
Every jazz musician, as well as every great speaker or writer, will tell you to first master the fundamentals. You have to know the structure so well, when you improvise, it’s built on the foundation of a solid structure.
The same goes for marriage and relationships.
There are fundamentals, principles, foundational themes that have to be in place for a relationship to be strong.
Things like trust, love, and acceptance,…
These things are fundamental. They provide the structure for everything else.
1. The Emotional Benefits of Structure
The idea of structure in a relationship sounds rigid. Immovable. Inflexible. It’s the opposite of what we are going for – which is spontaneity.
So, why is structure even part of the relationship?
It provides emotional benefits.Structure provides the foundation for a healthy relationship. Click To Tweet
Structure provides the foundation for a healthy relationship.
Remember the example of jazz? To be able to improvise, you must know the basic chords. You must have a firm grasp of the melody. Only then can you improvise well.
The very idea of improvisation (to arrange from whatever materials are readily available) implies there is already ‘something’ there. A structure is in place.
Perhaps the biggest emotional benefit of structure in a relationship is security. Safety. There are several emotional benefits, but they all tend to point to security.
Why is security so important? Well… It gives security. It makes us feel safe.
The playground study
I remember hearing about this study when I was doing undergraduate work in developmental psychology.
The essence of the study stated that children played better and felt more safe and secure when playing on a playground that had a fence around it.
The short 2-minute video below explains the study and how it affected the children. Its short and worth watching. I’ll make the connection to marriage
Video Courtesy of KuneoDallas
The importance of this case study doesn’t just apply to children. It tells us a lot about human nature.
It is our nature to want to feel safe.
It’s no different in a marriage relationship. When both partners feel safe – they know they are loved and accepted – there is freedom. Ironically this Freedom produces spontaneity.When both partners feel safe there is freedom. Ironically this Freedom produces spontaneity. Our Routines Build Relationship. Click To Tweet
Our Routines Build Relationship
My wife and I have built a few routines into our relationship. Rather than these routines making our relationship boring, unexciting, and uninteresting, it has the opposite effect. It makes our relationship exciting.
One example. We always turn the television off while we have dinner together. And we always try to have dinner together not apart.
What does this do for our relationship? How does it produce security?
We both know that by turning the television off we will have each other’s undivided attention. Cell phones can’t interfere. Facebook does not intrude. Instagram doesn’t hold our attention. We reserve this time for each other to provide one another with our undivided attention.
This makes us both feel secure in our relationship.
How? my wife knows and feels that if I’m willing to give her my undivided attention during this time, she has my heart. She knows she is loved enough to be listened to and heard.
Likewise, I know she is interested in my day and my life. By giving me her undivided attention I know I’m valued. That makes me feel safe and secure in a relationship.
This simple routine ensures we both have an emotional benefit from that structure.
How does this all relate to spontaneity in a relationship?
That leads me to point #2…
2. How Structure and Spontaneity Flow Together
There are two concepts related to this thought.
First, referring back to the study done with children on the playground, we see boundaries actually increase play activity rather than decrease it.
When the Children felt safe, they played better.
The same principle applies to marriage. Structure provides security and safety. Safety frees us to express ourselves in play. It actually gives us freedom to improvise.When structure and boundaries are in place there is more freedom to improvise and explore. Click To Tweet
In the video about the children, it’s interesting that without boundaries, they huddled close to the teacher. This was where they felt safe. Security was more important than play.
Once the boundary was established with the fence, they played freely. Security produced freedom to play.
When structure and boundaries are in place
there is more freedom to improvise.
Second, referring back to our music illustration, we understand that improvisation must be built on an existing structure.
All great jazz musicians excel in the fundamentals of Music Theory. In other words, you can’t improvise if don’t know the notes and chords.
When I know there are things I can depend on in my marriage, I have more freedom and ability to improvise and express myself openly.
When you are not secure, you operate out of fear.
If you are fearful, you will not explore.
Losing Desire To Explore
My wife and I love to hike. On one of our recent hikes, we encountered a mountain lion.
We were never in any danger, but the experience was quite unnerving for my wife.
She doesn’t want to go back to that particular hiking area anymore. The fear of that encounter caused her to lose her desire to explore.
Relationships work in a similar fashion. When safety is removed, exploration is diminished.
In simple terms… If you don’t feel safe, you will not explore.
Exploration is the essence of spontaneity.
How do we create an atmosphere of spontaneity? Let’s discuss that next…
3. How to Create Spontaneity
Through the years I have met several men who complained about their marriage relationship. They were looking for spontaneity.
They wanted their wife to be more adventurous. Sexually and in other areas of their relationship.
The thing they fail to realize was, the spontaneity they desired – the improvisation – must always be built on structure.
I suggested they begin building a structure of communication and Intimacy in their relationship first.
I’ll give you what I told them in a moment, but first…
Improvisation only works – emphasize ONLY – when it is built on a firm foundation and solid structure.
Stream of Consciousness Living
I’m a writer. My wife is a writer. We love words. One thing I’ve realized is that I had to learn the structure and the fundamentals of writing before I could just sit down and let the words flow.
We all want to write with ‘stream of consciousness’ (where the words just flow effortlessly). This type of writing is impacting, emotional, and enthusiastic.
It never happened until I learn to use the principles of great writing. Once I learned the structure of a great story, it became a part of my thinking. How I did things. Only then did it become easy to let my words flow.
It’s the same with marriage. Only when you understand the fundamentals of a great relationship Dash those things we talked about earlier Dash only then can the spontaneity… The improvisation of marriage… Kick in
My suggestion on creating spontaneity in your marriage.
I mentioned the men who came asking for my help. Here’s what I told them: My game plan for spontaneity in marriage:
1. Get a plan.
I know you may be thinking but that’s the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. Planning and spontaneity seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. But this is not true.
Here are some things to put on your plan:
- Buy flowers
- Buy a card
- Write a love note new line
- Send a text message
- Call just to say you love her
There are a thousand things you could put on your list. Make your list and keep adding to it as you think of new things.
2. Pick one and put it on your calendar.
Next, fill in your calendar with these items.
3. Do something every day.
If you don’t do something every day, do something every other day. The key is to take action and make it a routine.
Here’s what will happen:
As you begin to do the things you know to do, the things on your calendar, new ideas will begin to come to you. Creativity will give birth to new things. You will get in the habit of doing the things that provide safety and security. Then it will ignite spontaneity.
When you do things based on the structure – the fundamentals – spontaneity becomes natural.
We’ve seen how structure is actually the foundation for spontaneity in your relationship. If you want improvisation in your relationship, build a foundation.
Emotional benefits of structure provide the necessary ingredients for spontaneity.
Structure and spontaneity are not mutually exclusive, they actually flow together.Structure and spontaneity are not mutually exclusive, they actually flow together. Especially when it comes to intimacy in marriage. Click To Tweet
I also gave you a couple of tips on how to create spontaneous creativity in your relationship.
Want your relationship to be more spontaneous? Try adding a little more structure – the right kind of structure.
Martin Luther King jr. Wasn’t a great orator because he could ‘wing it.’ He cultivated that skill because he had structure. He practiced the fundamentals. You should too.
Now it’s your turn…
If you want to get a game plan to build the kind of relationship that is spontaneous and exciting, I recommend investing in a program to help you move forward.
‘Connect and Commit‘ will get you on the fast track to building a healthy marriage. Amy Waterman specializes in attraction, dating, and relationships. She has helped thousands of people find and grow love. Read more about ‘Connect and Commit.‘
What will you do to lay the foundation for a healthy marriage and create improvisation in your relationship?
I would love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts.
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