Putting the 10 Commandments of a Secure Functioning Relationship into Action: A Guide for Couples
Building Relationships on a Solid Foundation
I think we can all agree that we want our relationships to be positive, healthy and secure. And this is where secure functioning relationships come in. If you’re an avid reader of our blogs, you’ll know that we’ve previously taken a deep dive into attachment styles, one of which is secure attachment. While a secure attachment style plays a role in creating a secure functioning relationship, this relationship dynamic is recognised as more of a stand-alone practice between two partners.
So, we’re now taking a deeper dive into secure functioning relationships: what they are, what this relationship dynamic looks like, and why secure-functioning is so important. We’re also giving you Tatkin’s 10 Commandments of secure functioning relationships and some great tips to implement them in your relationship.
Dr Stan Tatkin describes a secure functioning relationship as an interpersonal system based on shared principles of collaboration, justice, fairness and sensitivity. The term “secure functioning relationships” was coined by Dr Tatkin, who added that they create the sense that you and your partner are “taking on the world together”. This means that within a partnership, you and your other half are physically, emotionally and spiritually aligned.
This alignment plays a dynamic role in a relationship, ensuring that a couple can use the foundational strength of their partnership to explore their different interests, drives, complexities and motivations as individuals. This highlights that a secure functioning relationship is a partnership based on support, trust and communication; a relationship without unhealthy competition or imbalances.
I like to attribute a secure functioning relationship to a safety net under a tightrope. You can walk that tightrope, no matter how new or frightening the experience is, because you’ve got that safety net below supporting you along. Your partner is there to catch you if you fall. This is what it means to be in a secure functioning relationship. As an individual, you can take chances, challenge yourself and embark on journeys of growth and development, knowing that you have the unconditional support of your partner. You can also experience what it feels like to be there for another person by being their safety net.
While this relationship may sound like all flowers and happiness, a secure functioning partner will also be honest and fair. As individuals, there are times when we all need to be told the truth or given a reality check of sorts. In a secure functioning relationship, your partner will be honest and real with you in these times, coming from a place of intention, kindness and trust. Likewise, when your partner needs some realness, you can be truthful and open with them.
Secure functioning dynamics matter because of the multiple ways in which we are personally affected by the characteristics of our close interpersonal relationships. A helpful way to assess why a healthy, secure relationship is beneficial is to look at what the opposite relationship may feel like.
A relationship without trust, communication, empathy or mutual understanding can lead to jealousy, various conflicts, single-mindedness, and lack of aligned goals or decisions. These outcomes may influence who you are when experiencing these emotions in a relationship. Unhealthy patterns in a long-term relationship may influence how you feel about the world, your relationship to yourself, and your relationship skills.
- Thou shalt protect the safety and security of thy relationship at all costs.
- Thou shalt base thy relationship on true mutuality, remembering that all decisions and actions must be good for thee AND for thine partner.
- Thou shalt not threaten the existence of the relationship, for so doing would benefit no one.
- Thou shalt appoint thy partner as go-to person for all matters. Making certain thy partner is first to know—not second, third, or fourth—in all matters of importance.
- Thou shalt provide a tether to thy partner all the days and nights of thy life, and never fail to greet thy partner with good cheer.
- Thou shalt protect thy partner in public and in private from harmful elements, including thyself.
- Thou shall put thy partner to bed each night and awaken with thy partner each morning.
- Thou shalt correct all errors, including injustices and injuries, at once or as soon as possible, and not make dispute of who was the original perpetrator.
- Thou shalt gaze lovingly upon thy partner daily and make frequent and meaningful gestures of appreciation, admiration, and gratitude.
- Thou shalt learn thy partner well and master the ways of seduction, influence, and persuasion, without the use of fear or threat.
It is clear these commandments are in language that we wouldn’t ordinarily use today. Although they seem literal, they are actually more metaphorical in nature. So let’s translate some of these principles, to apply them to the context of your life.
- You can protect the safety and security of your relationship by nurturing your partnership, and recognising that your relationship requires time and effort dedicated to its growth.
- You can base your relationship on mutuality by acting and making decisions in the interests of yourself and your partner. By communicating what you need and feel when making decisions, and accepting what your partner also communicates.
- By working through conflict calmly and effectively, without casting blame or threats to your partner. You cannot threaten the existence of the relationship.
- You can appoint your partner as your go-to person for all matters by being mindful of the information you share, and value the support or praise your partner gives you.
- You can tether yourself to your partner by being open and honest in your relationship, including your fears and hopes. This will enhance your emotional bond.
- You can protect your partner in public and in private by not speaking poorly of your partner or your relationship in social or private settings.
- You can put your partner to bed and awaken each morning with them by being content and open with your partner each day. This is metaphorical for not ending the day without communicating your feelings to your partner.
- You can clear all misunderstandings and not make a dispute of the perpetrator by being open about conflict, recognising the root of an issue, and repairing the hurt or confusion as soon as possible.
- You can gaze lovingly at your partner daily. Make meaningful gestures of appreciation, by showing your partner affection in a way they receive love.
- You can learn about your partner’s wants and needs, without fear based threats. Simply communicate your wants and needs, and listen to how your partner likes to be loved.
A secure functioning relationship is the foundation of any successful partnership. To ensure your relationship remains strong, healthy, and loving, it is important to follow the 10 commandments of a secure functioning relationship. These commandments provide guidance on how to set clear boundaries, foster openness and trust, practise respectful communication, and more. This guide provides insight into how to put these commandments into action. So as a couple, you can collectively create a lasting bond.
If you need support as a couple with any of the areas listed above, consider counselling. Together, we will explore helpful skills and strategies to communicate effectively and create a secure functioning relationship. Contact Kylie Lepri Counselling today for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how we can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
The team at Kylie Lepri Counselling are all registered Counsellors and Psychotherapists. Located in the Hills District, we specialise in Individual, Relationship and Family therapy. Providing online and in-person support to clients all over Australia. Get Kylie’s FREE e-Book: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter below.