In today’s video, we’re discussing the idea of knowing your spouse or relationship partner.
I think most of us default to the belief that we know the people in our inner circle, with whom we see and interact most, including our romantic partners. But I think we might be confusing ideas like familiarity, or being comfortable with someone, with the more critical idea of knowing them.
I wrote in my book This is How Your Marriage Ends at the beginning of Chapter 4:
“I never really knew my wife even though we were married for nine years and met when we were teenagers. Not because of any crazy spy shit or from deliberate attempts on her part to hide her identity from me.
“I didn’t really know my wife because for the entirety of our relationship I never invested the time, effort, and energy to really know and understand her. Some effort would have eliminated my blind spots and equipped me with the information I needed to avoid hurting her.”
In the video below, I explore three ideas that I believe relate to “knowing your spouse or partner” and that I think are critical concepts for maintaining Safety and Trust in your relationship, and might explain why it seems as if your spouse or partner is “never happy no matter what you do.”
Those ideas are:
1. Being able to tell the story of your relationship, with your spouse or partner sitting next to you, and then having your partner agree that you totally get it. That you 100 percent understand with accuracy and precision how they feel, and how your behavior positively or negatively affects them.
2. Eliminating negative surprises. I was frequently surprised by how my wife reacted to things while we were married. Not most of the time. But sometimes. Certainly enough to demonstrate that I didn’t truly understand how she felt about many things, which I argue suggests we can’t be trusted with their emotional care. If you don’t even know what does or does not hurt someone else, how can they trust you to act in their best interest?
3. The ability to anticipate needs, and accurately predict in real-time how life happenings will affect your spouse or relationship partner.
Relationships are like most things in life. When we accumulate knowledge and practice developing skills and better habits, we increase our level of competency or mastery of whatever that subject or activity is.
It requires intention. It’s a choice. A choice I hope you’ll make.