In the previous post (The 5 Best Relationship Self-Help Resources ) the focus was "improve yourself to improve your relationship." But, the next step after understanding yourself is understanding how your partner is different. Especially with male-female differences, but also consider individual differences. We forget that our thoughts and assumptions are not always shared. We know our own brain so well, it’s easy to forget others don’t. Even those who have known us for years. One of my favorite stories to tell on my parents is their individual perspective on a conference they both attended. They are both very bright, worked together for years and were very accomplished in their field. They had the same philosophy and approach in business. We asked, “So, what did you think about the conference?” Mom explained that she didn’t get a lot of new information but she met a lot of people that were interesting. My step-father replied, “It was humid and a waste of time.” How do two people who have a shared frame of reference have two such radically different explanations? My step-father dismissed the conference entirely because the information wasn’t new. He didn’t have many words, but his comment said it all. My mother needed to talk more about it and explain herself. Their differences were a good balance to each other and were also the source of conflict. Understanding each other was one key to their nearly 40 years of marriage … and counting.
These are 3 of the best sources for understanding your Other in contrast to yourself. These are guides. Use them as a starting point for conversation. Then ask “Is it this way for you?”
The penultimate: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. And Mars and Venus in the Bedroom. Reminds me of Brad Paisley’s I’m Still a Guy. Country and Western songwriters have known for eons that men and women are different. It took Gary Chapman documenting it in practical prose for us to recognize and have useful conversations that help relationships. It’s not enough to just read the book; you do need to follow-up and discover what applies to your woman or your man.
Strengths-Finder. (Do not get a used book. You need a code from a new book for each person to take the assessment.) Our brains are hard-wired to think, perceive, act and talk based on our unique combination of talents. Having consulted with teams for nearly 10 years now on strengths, it is still amazing to me to discover how differently we each frame the world and our conversations based on our brain-wiring. I highly recommend following up with a Core Clarity coach or consultant if you want to discover how to apply this tool more practically at your work or with your family.
The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Go to the website for the test. Then see if you want to order the book. Like Men are from Mars, the Love Languages are a guide. Illuminating, for sure, but still a guide. I have a friend who began to feel unloved by his partner because his partner didn’t tell him that he loved him very often. When he discovered that his partner’s love language was acts of service, he then understood. Every time his partner made coffee for him, or picked up his dry cleaning, or cooked a special meal, he was telling him that he loved him deeply. And, guess what, my friend’s love language is Words of Affirmation. This seemingly small reframing transformed their relationship, and they are now happily married.