Do you do a good job of listening to your partner? If you answered “yes”, my colleague Pete Pearson from The Couples Institute thinks that you might have a bit of trouble convincing him that you are right. He says that a couple of years ago he started asking most couples during their first appointment if they think they listen very well to their partners. The vast majority said, “Yes I think I listen pretty well – but my partner is not so hot!” Now that’s an interesting conundrum; if each person is saying the same thing about their partner, that they don’t listen very well, then somebody’s not listening, right? “Yep, but it’s not me!”
Pete goes on to say that most people have a reasonable idea about what their partners major complaints about them are, and that’s also my experience when meeting with a couple for the first time. However he goes on to say that where a lot of people struggle is in being able to answer the following question with any confidence, “What do you think you do that evokes in your partner feelings of being loved, valued, appreciated or respected?” In other words, what is your partners love language? Pete says that if you not only modify or stop doing some of the things that your partner finds difficult, but also take the time to discover what it is that they appreciate you doing you will be well on the way to creating a much more satisfying relationship.
You can read Pete’s post here. I think Pete might have a couple of lines missing from the end of his post, so scroll down to the comments at the bottom of his page for clarification. I hope you find his post helpful. It would be great if you left a comment to let me know what you think.
Remember Mike and Genevieve from the last blog? Here they are again talking about an idea developed by marriage and relationship therapists Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt. They are the co-founders of Imago Relationship Therapy, and one of the foundations of this model is the idea that we carry an unconscious image or “imago”, that is an amalgamation of the positive and negative attributes of our parents or primary caregivers. The story goes that we are unconsciously attracted to people who match up with the positives list in our “imago” and this is what pulls us into falling in love, only to find, as the rosy glow of early romance fades, that our lover also has a bunch of really annoying habits that match the negatives in our unconscious “imago”.
I like the saying “A theory is an idea in search of the truth”. Imago theory and the idea of our partners being an “imago match” seems to hold up a lot of the time with the couples I work with.