There are things I have read over the years that “stuck.” One such thing was in a book on marriage counseling I read years and years ago. The book was titled simply, “Marriage Counseling.” The author is a man named Everett Worthington, Jr. He wrote the book in 1989. The one thing that I remember out of that book is his CDI theory of relationship health.
I’m writing this morning after having my son and two granddaughters ages 2.5 years and 9 months old visiting with us for four days. The excitement before they come is amazing. Gayle and I both can’t wait till they get here. But soon we are reminded why for young parents this can be one of the toughest times of life. So, I was also reminded of Worthington’s CDI theory of healthy relationships.
Here is the theory. C=Coactivity, fun stuff you can do together with your partner; D=Distance, times of alone time to do things you are interested in without your partner (or kids); and I=Intimacy, those times when you share your deep heart with your partner. When dating these ingredients happen naturally. You go on a fun date “C time”, you go out to dinner and look into each other’s eyes and dream together about the future “I time”, then you go home and she goes home and you do your own thing “D time”.
Marriage then changes all that. Everything turns into this blend of work and coactivity. Work does not qualify as D time! The distance where you have some healthy alone time fades and so does the intimacy. When children come they are an around the clock responsibility that changes everything if you don’t work really hard at being the parent. So, Saturday morning I was awakend by my precious granddaughter’s voice saying, “PaPa PaPa.” As the day passes if you don’t fight for yourself to get some quiet time, the day becomes a whirlwind of feeding, changing, comforting and playing till they go to bed and you drop exhausted. My heart goes out to single parents!
Families were meant to have two parents who will work together at protecting each other’s sanity during those child rearing years. I think back with major regret at all the times my wife was left to handle our three by herself.
Remember the CDI, it is an accurate theory. It is in all of our best interests at any stage of life to make sure all three components are present. It will take work to make sure you guard each part. Much frustration in relationships that lead to their demise happens because these three things were not balanced and present.
So, even after nearly 39 years of marriage, Gayle and I still need to share our hearts, our dreams, our fears and our joys. We still need to do things together we both enjoy and we still needs times alone to enjoy some time apart. When marital frustration comes in, examine and you will see the “D and I” are being skimped or left out altogether.