Falling in love is a gift. Can you imagine that there might be people in the world who have never experienced it? The euphoria when you see her face, the impatience between each meeting and desire that can drive you crazy. The strength and confidence that infatuation can give to do things you never thought you could do. The seemingly incurable languish if there are obstacles that keep you apart.
It’s the stuff that makes you feel alive.
It’s also commonly known as Stage I in a romantic relationship, when everything is brand new and it seems as if you could easily be this happy always.
But it doesn’t last. Eventually, we all come down from Cloud 9. To get back there requires work and successful couples are the ones who have put the hard work in to uphold it.
Those couples have learned that to maintain the well-being of their relationship, they have to be able to see their partner’s perspective in addition to their own. Being able to see the world through your partner’s eyes without losing your own perspective is the single most important skill you can have in a romantic relationship.
When I was upset about the dirty dishes, I was focusing only on my perspective, which was half the picture. The anger I felt came from the meaning I gave to it – that he didn’t care about me enough to help me out. I chose to make the issue about my value instead of his forgetfulness. Lashing out would have been my way of punishing him for allowing the situation to make me feel devalued. If I had done so, I would have turned my partner into an enemy.
Instead, if I had taken Dan’s perspective into consideration, I would have been able to see that he probably forgot to turn the dishwasher on because he always has a million things to take care of in the morning, including but not limited to: studying, walking and feeding the dog and getting ready for work. If I had lashed out at him, he would have felt like a failure for disappointing me and not being able to make me happy.
Taking his perspective into account made me realize also how much more Dan is able to do for the house than I am. A LOT, actually. Indeed, adding his perspective to my own allowed me to see that I had no place to be complaining about the dishwasher, needed to start picking up the slack and showing him more appreciation for all his hard work.
That’s a powerful relationship game-changer.
Important Tips for Binocular Vision:
- You don’t have to agree with your partner’s perspective, point of view, version of the facts or even understand it. The key is to focus on the importance of his or her feelings associated with it.
- Ignoring your partner’s perspective and feelings and insisting on your own means that being right is more important to you than how your partner feels and more important than the well-being of your relationship.
- Most of the time, you may not know what your partner’s perspective is and may not be able to figure out what to associate with your own feelings of fear or shame. Until you can figure it out, you need to suspend judgment and defer from reaching a conclusion until you have more information.
- When we feel devalued, instead of focusing on the revenge motive of anger, we need to raise our self-value. We can do that by thinking about the most important things about us as a person, feeling the love we have for the people who matter to us, feeling a spiritual connection, finding beauty in nature, art, music, focusing on our sense of friendship and community and compassionate things that we have done. Doing so will make our negotiations with our partners about behavior requests, not our value as people and the heightened emotions will disappear.
Being able to see the world through your partner’s eyes without losing your own perspective is the single most important skill you can have. You don’t have to agree on the interpretation of the facts or even understand each other but you do need to care how your partner feels if you want to stay connected. If you’re unable to figure out your partner’s view, then yours is temporarily incomplete and you do not have enough information to draw conclusions.
How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It by Patricia Love, Ed.D. and Steven Stosny, Ph.D