Tuesday, August 11, 2009

“I know him so well…?”

“I know him so well…?”

By Krishni Gunawardena- Counsellor/Therapist

The song from "Jesus Christ Super Star" came into the mind of yours truly, trying to pen some ideas about how well a person knows his/her spouse.

Honestly, how well do you know your partner? It may sound a stupid question but think about how you would answer; Do you know their favourite music? What makes them laugh? What they dislike to see happening around the house? Their childhood memories? Their best topic to chat? Or do you know what attracts them to you?

We all like to think that we know our spouse better than anyone else. But most of us don’t know them as well as we think we do. In fact at times we don’t even really know ourselves, do we?

Although we think we are impartial judges, the truth is we hardly see a full and accurate picture of us and our relationship. That however is very natural.

In a relationship we cannot assume all is well with our partner. We cannot speak for our spouse’s opinion unless we find out first. Many husbands speak for their wives. Is it a Sri Lankan thing?

Nuwan 35 is a CEO of a company and his wife Tharindi is a sweet girl, eleven years junior. When a friend asked Tharindi whether she was happy about a certain situation, the husband butts in and says " Oh! She is happy about it" Tharindi wears a blank face, so much as to say " What is he talking about?"

If we are too complacent about our relationship we run the risk of losing all perspective and making it far easier for things to go wrong.

In a relationship- obviously- it is healthy and lovely for both to be truly happy and satisfied, than one being so.

One of the most common judgment errors that most of us make is in how we assign blame. Blame is of course at the centre of most conflicts and if we are judging our spouse by a very different standard, then arguments become more difficult to resolve.

Logan, who’s father was a principal and a mother a teacher grew up, constantly being reminded of the pluses of punctuality. When he married Maheshwari –a carefree girl- he found it difficult to understand her nonchalant attitude and behaviour. Logan says "When I have promised to go to my friend’s place at 8 pm, it has to be 8 pm" His wife- much to his annoyance- is late most of the time! Why does he want to be there at 8 pm on the dot? Is it because of his friend or because of the stubborn notion that he has to stick to his usual pattern?

Well, it all depends on how important the function is and other facts as well. However, isn’t it lovely to strike a balance between the couple? Ah! Compromise. That’s the word!

Each one of us brings a pre-existing script to our relationship. Most of them are formed in our childhood. They sometimes determine how we think about ourselves and other people. Sometimes it drives us to interpret other people’s behaviour in a way that suits our script.

Kamani, 28 thought she was reserved and felt she needed an outgoing guy to bring her out of her shell. This is how her parent’s relationship had worked. Her mother too was reserved. "When I met Gayan at a party, I thought he was ‘The One’ for me" They got engaged and for the first few months it was one big party! Every night they were going out. She soon realized she hardly had any time with him alone. She would say "I felt I wasn’t in a relationship, it was all about being supportive to all his ‘out going’ plans.

I was only thinking of fitting him in just one aspect and didn’t consider whether he was right for me in other aspects."

After we get over the first flush of romance we know our relationship better, but some of us engage in self-deception.

Looking at things from a different angle could help us to know and appreciate our spouse more deeply. Understanding our partner’s perspective rather than our own assumptions, gives us the chance to change the way we react and it can lead to a better relationship.


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