Let’s face it when we've been with someone more than (you fill in this blank) we come to a place where we think we pretty much know everything we’re going to know about our partner. And there is some truth to that, we know what they like to eat, we know if they’re a morning person and we even know if they are a dog or cat person. (That’s important information!) All this “knowledge” can lead to what I call an “assumptive relationship”. That means we begin to treat our spouse like we treat our drive home from work.
Do you remember your drive home from work today? If you’ve been working at that location long you may have done that drive hundreds if not thousands of times. When we get in our car after a long day at work and start for home we pretty much put it in autopilot. In other words, we don’t observe the scenery, people or situations that we pass along the way. We miss them because we’re not looking any more, we've seen it so many times that we assume everything is the same. But it isn't ... there is something new there waiting for us to discover every day. We can even lose the ability to notice the beauty around us even when it is spectacular. My drive home from the office is probably one of the most extraordinary, sumptuous, eye pleasing sights in the world. Cheri and I are constantly commenting on how we just can't believe we live here. I tell myself that I must never take this sight for granted but just the other day I caught myself not noticing this beauty. My mind was distracted with the day's activities and I was missing the absolute gorgeous beauty all around me!
Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
And so it is with our spouse, we lose the desire to discover new things about them so that most of the time we could “phone in” our marriage. Do we really want our closest relationship on earth to become like that? Remember when you first met your spouse? Remember how fascinated you were with them and how you couldn’t wait to see them again so you could learn more about their likes and dislikes, loves and losses? I’m going to make a bold statement. If you’ve developed an assumptive relationship with your spouse then … YOU DON’T REALLY KNOW THEM. That’s right, you’re like a person who is looking at an iceberg and sees only the 10% that is visible above the surface. Why can I say this? Because whatever you thought you knew about your spouse is old news, there are new thoughts, feelings and experiences happening to them every day. How do I know this? Because the same is true of you … you are not the same person you were a month ago and if I assume you are then I don’t really know you. The key to keeping a relationship fresh and exciting is not assuming you know your spouse and committing to learning something new about them every single day. You may say; “that sounds hard, I don’t know how to do that”. Let me give you some hints that will help.
Learn to ask questions: And I don’t mean the yes or no type. Ask open ended questions that will require your spouse to share something deeper and reveal their inner world. Here’s an example:
Bad question: "Did you have a good day at work today"?
Good question: "What new and exciting things happened at work today"?
Warning: If you haven’t been exploring the inner world of your spouse for a while then your questions may be greeted with suspicion and resistance. They may wonder why you’re suddenly interviewing them. You may need to preface your questions with explaining your new commitment to know them better.
Recognize and stop your assumptions: Question your assumptions about your spouse’s likes, dislikes, interests and dreams. Even if you think you’ve got these nailed just the process of asking about them could stimulate your spouse’s thinking and help them out of self-imposed ruts. Wouldn’t a wonderful consequence of getting to know your spouse be that they become more in touch with their own inner world? That’s when marriage is really hitting on all cylinders!
Become an observer: Just like your drive home is filled with new experiences that you miss so your spouse’s life is filled with many new and interesting clues into their inner world. Look for them.
If we at Total Wellness Resource Center can be of any encouragement to you on how to "Live the Live you were Created to Live" we are eager help! Just comment in the section below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org