By Alex Chapunoff, LMHC, TIRF
When a couple gets into relationship trouble, it often turns out each side has been very focused on his or her own perceptions and feelings, and less on their partner’s.
This is common. By and large, from a very young age we are taught to be individuals – to focus on our needs and wants, develop ourselves, pursue our goals and agendas, and so on.
As a single person, it’s all about you: you live how you want, eat where you want, hang out with whomever you want, and vacation or move anywhere you want. You are 100% of the sum of your individuality. But now, as a partner, you are 50% of a relationship. That’s quite a shift and the result is that what you think, feel, and want is now only one side of the equation. There’s also that other side: your partner’s.
It is very normal (common) for a person to enter a long-term relationship without making the cognitive-emotional adjustment to “partner.”
As an individual, you already know what you think and want. You are an expert in you. Good. But how well-versed are you in your partner’s needs? When she talks, do you understand what she means? When he goes out of his way for you, do you at some point reciprocate? When she shares something, do you value it?
The basis of a relationship is your role as partner (not just as individual) to your partner and vice-versa. This begins with the consideration, attention, affection, and respect that can be summed up as Communication.
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