There is nothing as amazing as finding someone who we feel we can be safe, comfortable and happy just being around them. For any couple that wants to be with their chosen partner for a lifetime there are hundreds of tips that people can offer you. If you come into a couples therapy session I am sure you will hear meany of them. But here is my top tip to get the ball rolling for you.
TOP TIP: never assume you know what your partner means, thinks, or feels. Always ask! This should sound reasonable but most forget; your partner is not you and you are not your partner. I have countless stories of how one assumption on a clients part led to an all out war between them and their partner.
Here is a real example of a client I had not long go. Let’s call the female partner Molly and her male partner Peter. Molly was upset one session because she felt Peter didn’t prioritize quality time for them to spend together. Molly stated that though she and Peter made plans to go on a date to see a movie he still made other plans for right after. Leaving her after the movie made her feel like he didn’t care or even enjoy the time together. When asking Peter how he saw the situation he stated that the plan for the date was only a movie, he did not know Molly wanted more time afterward. Molly said that when Peter told her that he wanted to go on a date with her Saturday she understood that to mean the whole day not just for the movie. Peters interpretation was that the date was only for the movie.
Can you see where the assumption was made? If this couple could have defined, in words, what they thought the date consisted of and the expectations for it, an argument and all the hurt feelings would never have happened. Everyone would have gotten what they wanted, if they had just told one another. Even after 16 years together they were still assuming they knew what the other meant by “let’s go on a date”.
Another example, of a more serious issue, was with a couple that were in essence arguing over what they each defined as cheating. The male partner enjoyed pornography and that led him to not seek sexual satisfaction with his partner. His partner felt even images of other women was cheating, let alone his pornography collection. This case had more concerns then just the endless amount of assumptions made, but this was a big step in working towards the end goal of achieving lasting love in their marriage.
Defining things that are important to you is a big and crucial step in a healthy relationship to help reduce damaging the relationship. Let me repeat myself; you are not your partner and your partner is not you. Asking questions is important. Try to always come from a place of curiosity when having these discussions and you will be surprised what your partner can teach you.