If anything starts to go wrong, it will probably get nipped in the bud,
Tossed to the compost heap of experience,
To nurture the entwined roots of our love.
As already used by millions in business: The 12 principles of agile were created by a group of software engineers frustrated at the awful, so called "waterfall" method of trying to deliver software solutions.
I will show you how to effectively apply the principles of agile to relationships.
Read these excellent blogs.
Before you start, each person involved in the relationship must commit verbally and in writing to trying to own and share any jealous feelings without accusing others for victimising them and or defensive and then aggressive when challenged about their behaviours. Everyone will experience those feelings and do things that are unhelpful but it is how they behave next that is the make or break for the health of the relationship.
Unchecked dishonesty and secret-keeping can permanently poison any relationship and is emotional abuse. Abusers have been abused and represent more than half of the population. One of every 2 people you meet.
If someone is abusive, sensitively end the relationship with them for the time being and gently suggest they engage in talking therapy. Only when they have succesfully addressed their own issues, should you reestablish a relationship with them. Abuse will eventually poison the relationship and ripples outwards to impact other relationships.
Be brave and prepare for a hurtful, aggressive response - they will probably lash out defensively and claim that you are abusive. They will claim that they are the victims and that you are manipulative and controlling. Do not buy into this or get upset - they cannot help it.
No one knows where a relationship will go and making one big change at a time is dangerous.
Break big changes down into reasonable, small steps or "stories" that can easily be prioritised and tested to see whether they work. Shared Google Keep notes are really good for this. Each story has an author and success criteria so go away and write a bunch - as many as you can think of. Write a headline for each story using this template: "As a <role> i need <action>, so that <justification>".
Own it! For example: "as a lover, I need to go on a date at least once a week so that my desire is kept alive".
You all get together and discuss and clarify everyone's stories then give each a success test such as "I'll feel more amorous" a priority such as 1 (scale 1-5) and an effort rating such as 2. Agree the tasks that need doing such as "find something to do, organise it, let everyone know the date and time" and assign them. Agree when you need to get together to review what happened and the total "effort" reasonable. Pick stories from top priority downwards until you have got that total effort. Ignore the other stories for now.
The sooner you try a story out, the sooner you can find out whether it is worth keeping and building on or discarding as a valuable lesson learnt.
Learn to embrace constant change and congratulate all involved for being brave and honest!
Change is the only constant in relationships so learn to embrace the opportunity it gives you to learn and develop.
"But we agreed..." is not agile, and closes down conversation.
In order to stay on a positive course, it is important to adjust the heading frequently enough. You need to check-in with people to see what's working for everyone and be agile enough to change it at the drop of a hat.
By "enough", I mean for the needs of that relationship, at that time. Early on in a relationship you know nothing about where it's headed so you want to agree and make a few important course changes very frequently indeed. Later on, perhaps once every 2 weeks is adequate.
Even in an established relationship, you might find yourself in a particular situation where it makes sense to check in with each other each 15 seconds to see what new changes are working, and try a couple of new changes instantly. It's where the agility bit comes in.
Agree to make changes frequently, only select a few, high-priority ones that everyone agrees are worthwhile trying, and work through them from top priority down over the agreed "sprint" period (above), so that at least the most important one(s) get tested out.
At the end of each "sprint" period agreed, have a review meetup to see how you did against the stories. Agree new stories off the back of them and reassess any that you didn't try to see whether they should be carried forward into the next "sprint" - the priorities might have changed by then.
Communicate all the time to everyone, openly - no secrets, OK?
Children, grandchildren, brothers, friends - they all have some kind of stake in the success of your relationship. They don't have to make key decisions but gather their insights and listen to how they are affected. You will be surprised.
Once you have identified all the "stakeholders" above, encourage the ones who show an active interest in your decision-making process to contribute. Their energy and motivation could by key to success. It might by your 10 year-old son.
Where possible, make all conversations face-to-face, or at least over video-conferencing. There are so many things that you can't pick up on with written words or even on the phone.
Use progress in your relationship as your measure of success. If what seemed like a good idea on paper or worked well in another relationship didn't work out, don't hang on to it like a dog with a bone. Agree to drop it.
Never suggest that a sex act that was great with a previous partner should work with a new partner!
Don't see this process as a one-off. Instead, build it into all of your relationships going forward and keep doing it - they are not static and change over time.
By following the processes set out in the best way possible, you will maintain that constant pace of growth within your relationships. Don't get lazy and stop meeting up with people or drop important friendships.
Have a big list somewhere of things you could work on in each relationship. Don't work on them now because the fact they are on that list means that they are not the top priority right now. You can look at them periodically to see whether the priorities have shifted and it might be a good time to discuss them. Don't take on too much at once!
Don't try to be in absolute control of making things that have been agreed work. Relationships thrive on concentual power and control. For example, your partner might be better at organising your romantic weekend away and enjoy it more than you. Learn to trust and enjoy the feelings of controlling or being controlled, as it works for everyone.
This goes back to not letting things slide - make sure you book in regular reviews of what's working and what's not. Is everyone being involved enough in decisions? Is there too much texting instead of face-to-face discussion? Are you being realistic about what is being expected of your partner? Is their control and jealousy creeping in? Is anyone going ahead and doing things that they know are outside of the current agreements and how can that be stopped? Have honest and non-blaming conversations about how to improve.
People will make "mistakes" where they have strayed outside the agreements of the relationship but see them as opportunities to learn and change the relationship and maybe turn them into new stories that explore the possibility of changing the agreement. Make it so that everyone feels able to admit and share them without feeling shame or blame.
The classic guide to love, sex, and intimacy beyond the limits of conventional monogamy has been fully updated to reflect today's modern attitudes and the latest information on nontraditional relationships.