In many ways, a relationship is like a dance. As in a dance, timing is everything. Differences in partners’ rhythms often give rise to their biggest problems, but oddly enough, they seldom notice that timing is the active factor. Instead, they are likely to blame each other or call the relationship “bad.”

Timing is on when two people move in synchrony, off when they are out of step. When your timing is off, you and your partner don’t seem to match or move together. You may even appear to be moving in opposite directions! The card TIMING reminds you to expect differences in timing. If you do not see or respect how your rhythms differ, tension will result. Many problems are created solely by timing, but you might mistakenly think their cause is something else.

Where might timing differences affect your relationship?

One typical area involves partners’ different rhythms in wanting closeness or distance. While everyone needs both connection and individual space, partners can easily be out of synch in who needs what, when. For whatever reason, one partner may really want space at the same time that the other really wants connection.

People often confuse timing differences with differences in intention. One partner may then believe the other to be “incapable of intimacy” or “too needy.” An ongoing conflict usually results, which may activate each partner’s fears of being either abandoned or trapped. In the turmoil, the true underlying factor – natural timing differences – is overlooked.

Timing is also involved in how partners try to solve their problems. Some people first need time apart to mull over a situation before talking. Others want an immediate solution and try to engage in rational discussion too soon. Still others need to express all their emotions without any interruptions before they can solve anything rationally. The different timing needs of these different styles can create additional turmoil!

Many other areas of relating are affected by timing: when you want to work or play, how quickly you finish tasks, when your energy is high or low, or when you are ready to take a significant step in a relationship. Romantic partners usually experience timing differences in sexual response.

Partners’ personal clocks are not, cannot, and do not have to be in perfect synch all the time. This card cautions you not to turn timing differences into a source of tension. Be alert against mistaking different rhythms for something else – like character flaws in your partner or irresolvable issues in your relationship. Instead, just relax. Breathe. Open your heart. And find acceptance.

Seek out information from your partner in order to better understand your different timing needs. Explore how you might work toward better synchrony. By learning to respect the differences in your rhythms, you can avoid forming many unnecessary, damaging beliefs about your relationship. More important, you can finally resolve the real issues.

Consider the fluid interplay of dolphins, who know how and when to respond to one another’s movements. As you and your partner learn to accept your timing differences, you will dance with grace – instead of stepping on each other’s feet.