You’re sitting alone together, you and your significant other. Just the two of you, right? No!
There are really four more of you sitting there to spice up the conversation. And when you all get going, communication and life can get complicated. So let’s play with introducing each of you to one another. (Descriptions are based on a real couple.)
First there is you — that talented, capable person, that person with a really good head and a really good heart, that person of achievement and joy and spirit. But you don’t yet realize the full extent of your real potential or even that you have an important life purpose to fulfill.
The second person on the loveseat is your partner as he really is — energetic, committed, intelligent, well read and capable of getting a lot done. He has purpose and is capable of greatness, but he doesn’t know it. His sadness masks his passion, so nothing much happens.
Then there is the you that you think you are – ambitious, but feeling stressed a lot. You are afraid of making mistakes on your job, but seldom do. You feel criticized and judged in your relationship, especially when you have to work overtime. You have occasional glimpses of grand purpose, but quickly dismiss them as impractical.
Sitting next to you is your partner as you see him. He’s a good lover and he has a good job, but he’s unhappy. He criticizes you as soon as you walk in the door, and he complains about the state of humanity. You see in him capacity for great passion about something worthwhile. You see occasional glimpses of spiritual wisdom. You see his unhappiness.
And then there is your partner as he sees himself — responsible, but slowing down and wanting to simplify. He would retire if he could. He sees himself as supportive of your career, even though he criticizes a lot. He believes there’s nothing he can do about the injustices in the world.
Finally there is the you as he sees you. He likes the fact that you hold a well-paid professional job. He resents your having to work some overtime. He sees you as not caring for your family when you don’t demand that you be able to go home every night at 5 o’clock.
And there you are, all six of you, sitting on the loveseat and trying to have a conversation.
But communicate you must. As human beings communication is a matter of survival. Yet what I have outlined above, with variations from couple to couple, is essentially the starting place in all conversations.
Now you know why I call it a cosmic joke.
There is much more to say about communication and relationships. But for now, when you are struggling in a discussion with your mate, give yourselves a break. Invite him to pause with you for a moment and laugh at the cosmic joke of the six people on the loveseat.
"Helping capable people who feel stuck.” Dr. Neill Neill, Registered Psychologist, serves clients from Ladysmith to Comox in their psycho-spiritual healing and growth. Contact Dr. Neill at 250-752-8684 or www.neillneill.com