trust in relationships

Be Prepared for the Death Spiral

Photo by: Just Ree via Flickr

Have you ever been ice skating in the Caribbean…. on a boat? A feature of the Royal Caribbean Liberty ship is an ice skating rink.Skating on this vessel was as odd an experience as it sounds. To feel the boat sway, just a little bit, while skating around this tiny little rink is something I think everyone should experience at least once.

One purpose of the rink was to hold an ice show. Around the ice rink was a tiny auditorium. As the show started I remember thinking, this is a tiny little rink, yet these skaters are gliding along, jumping, and spinning as if they were on a full size sheet of ice at Madison Square Garden. I was impressed with the skaters’ ability to maintain their balance and perform gracefully.

One of the skaters who stood out was a huge bald guy.  Of course, he was the main performer.He tossed  the female skaters around with no problem. At the climax of the show, the star was featured in a pair’s routine with a tiny female skater. They were darting around the ice, he was throwing her up and catching her, it was great to watch. At the end of their routine, however, I saw something I was not prepared for at all.

The Death Spiral

They maneuvered to the far side of the rink and as the star skater picked up this petite, little woman, he began to spin. The faster he spun, the faster she spun. I was convinced her head was going to slam into the ice and I would have to witness this horrible, violent event with my ten year old daughter. Fortunately, the routine ended, the skaters returned to their positions unscathed, and the audience was left cheering and in awe. Later, my wife excitedly said, “They did a death spiral?! I can’t believe I missed it! That’s awesome!” That wasn’t exactly my reaction.Photo by: Daniskates via Flickr

The Skaters Explanation

The next day on a tender boat from an excursion we happened to sit next to the skaters I had seen the day before doing the routine! I had to ask them about the death spiral. He called it “The Skull Cracker”, by the way. I was in awe about it, yet the skaters seemed so non-chalant. It turns out they have been skating together for eighteen years and are also married. They have built a lot of trust. I said to the male skater, “It’s a good thing you’re as strong as you are.” He responded, without a hint of false modesty, “Her strength is as important as mine. In order to keep her body as straight as she does above the ice has nothing to do with me, it’s all her strength.”

Applied to Relationships

Think about that in a relationship context. In a healthy  relationship you absolutely need trust. You also need mutuality. Everyone’s best interests must be kept in mind, if not someone feels taken advantage of and trust is destroyed. A successful relationship requires strength on both sides. There are unexpected challenges that arise which will need both parties to remain strong and committed. For the skater to not slam her head into the ice she had to have trust, mutuality, strength, and commitment. She had to know her husband had those characteristics as well. If either wavered, it would be disastrous. The same is true in your  relationships:

  • Be committed
  • Build trust
  • Know your strengths

Maintain these characteristics and you will always be prepared for the death spiral.