How well do you know your partner?

For the last seven months of 2009, I am going to work on one principle per month out of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. Hopefully there will also be some things that stand out for you for working on your own relationships.
Nat and I have made a lot of progress with our EFT therapist during the past 8 months. It has been both exciting and exhausting, and sometimes I have not looked forward AT ALL to going. It has been hard work. Despite that, we are now a lot more understanding and patient with each other, and most importantly to me we know each other a lot better. The connection is stronger, and we don’t as easily get caught in those same problems over and over again.

There are a lot of reasons why I want the best relationship possible, but an important one is to be a good example for others in committed relationships, and a positive influence on society in general. We ALL have challenges (sometimes quite significant, sometimes minor). Some relationships just don’t work out.
I want to continually learn and grow in my relationship, and inspire others to get out of their comfort zone and get to work as well. Improving one’s relationship is not just for “those people” who have “problems”… Also, not to single out men, but so often it seems their hubris is in the way of really getting to work on their relationships. If you’re one of those men (or women), GET OVER YOURSELF! 🙂

The principle for July is to build and expand Love Maps. This is how much cognitive room (space in your brain!) you have for your partner. How well do you know them and their world? Do you know what has been bothering them lately? What have they enjoyed doing this week? Their favorite (or least-favorite) relative? What they think about organic food or how they feel about the book they are reading?
Take this quiz to find out how well you know your partner. Then, go ask your them an open-ended question (one that can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’). Ask them what they think or feel about something, and then listen. Put your thoughts on hold and just get to know their world. Surprisingly, a lot of couples don’t ask each other very many questions like this. We should be continually building on what we know about those we care about, and they should feel known by us. This is very important to do over the course of one’s relationship because people grow and change.
Love Maps are also the foundation for all good friendships, not just romantic relationships, so this principle applies to everyone!

About shenpa warrior

"Patience is not learned in safety." View all posts by shenpa warrior

9 responses to “How well do you know your partner?

  • Steve

    Very good point! I've been thinking about this a lot lately since after the birth of our daughter, our relationship has naturally changed. Sometimes I wonder if we know each other as well anymore, due to less one-on-one time, and also if we are the same people even, since now we both have somewhat altered views on life and our role(s) in this new life. Quite complex!

  • Kate

    My DH and I also love to do any relationship book/test we can come across. It gets us talking about subconscious decisions we are making and that is always a good thing. That sad, I really didn’t like the Gottman book, mainly because there were several aspects of my past that Gottman seemed to imply meant we were doomed as a couple. None of which I had control over. Anyway, we have an amazing marriage, so take that, Gottman! (Actually, I think it just shows what you can accomplish when you work hard at NOT becoming your parents).

  • adamf

    Actually, you should be saying, “take that, couples researched by Gottman!” Like it or not, it’s solid research. That being said, if you didn’t fit you, I think that’s awesome! It’s good to break not be in the norm in this case!

    Have you read Hold me Tight?

  • Kate

    Oh, I don’t doubt the research. Just that I fit in Gottman’s “norm” 🙂 We also took the RELATE test before we were married, and it said many of the same things but in a much less “your marriage is condemned” sort of way.

    We haven’t read Hold Me Tight. What is it about?

    My favorite marriage relationship book is “Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts” (with the accompanying workbook). That one REALLY lead to some great conversation starters. We read the “Love Languages” books, too, but those seemed repetitive after reading some of the other books that we had. I hated “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” totally doesn’t apply in our marriage. We have a lot of role reversal going on for us, which works for us but doesn’t seem to fit the “norm”.

    I’m not exaggerating when I say we are relationship book junkies. The plan next year is to hit of the “Marriage Encounter” retreats near our house. We have the best marriage ever, maybe because we take such a proactive effort at it?

  • adamf

    I haven’t heard of the RELATE test, but I’m fairly picky regarding relationship stuff, so if there’s not at least a decade of scholarly research or at least some good theory behind something, I tend to scoff… Men are From Mars fits into that category imho… kind of like junk food for relationship work.

    Hold Me Tight (by Sue Johnson) is based on Emotionally Focused Therapy and adult attachment theory. It is all about emotional connection and security as the basis for everything else. Great book, although it must be read in small doses once you get into the later chapters where you are supposed to start trying things out (in this case, in conversations).

    I’ve never been to a marriage counter retreat, but I may go sometime just because I’m curious. A friend of mine has gone to some though and said they were often kind of emotionally manipulative. Either way, good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • adamf

    I am dieing to know now, though, what parts of Gottman’s stuff did not fit for you? I use a lot of his stuff in teaching (most recently for a class at church) and would like to know people’s experiences with it, i.e. what fits for them and what doesn’t… thanks in advance! 🙂

  • Kate

    Ew, emotionally manipulative. That sounds bad. I’ve heard nothing but good about it. Since they vary depending on what ecclesiastical route you go through, perhaps it was a different one? The one we are going to is for Catholics.

    Let me get back to you about Gottman when I get home on Monday (we are visiting the in-laws and my book is at home). That way I can be specific. I just recall there being stuff in there about how having a spouse who has been abused or from a divorced family is a huge worry sign. While I am sure this is true, its not the death knoll to your marriage it was made out to be. I had all sorts of issues in my childhood, and we are very happy in our marriage. Of course, 10 years of ongoing therapy may also contribute to that happiness 🙂

  • Kate

    Honestly, I think it was largely the tone I didn’t like, not the facts.

  • adamf

    Yeah, let me know. If others are saying good things, I guess we’ll find out! I wonder how lasting the good results are…

    Re: Gottman, let me know, even if it’s “the tone” – it may very well be an issue in his writing that I didn’t realize. He’s so funny and affable in person that I may not have noticed it in the book(s).

    Re: therapy, I love it! We just finished about 15 sessions of Emotionally Focused Therapy, but wish we could have done a few more. Maybe down the road when we’re in a different stage of life.

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