In my last couples therapy blog, I started exploring a common lament that I hear couples make in my office. And that is when one partner turns to the other and says, “You are not the person I married.”
As I explained last time, the realization that your partner is “not the person you married” can be very painful for both partners. But it can also be a critical turning point in your relationship. It turns out that the statement “You are not the person I married” is grounded in some myths about what it means to be in intimate relationship. In this blog, I am going to talk about the second of these myths.
Myth #2: I Can Fully Know My Partner
If you say that your partner is not the person you married, this of course implies that you knew them completely when you married them. But I submit that it is never possible to know another person completely. That’s because fundamentally, people are a mystery. We are always in the process of growing and changing.
Take for example, your physical body: each day, 50 to 70 billion of your cells die and your body replaces these with new cells. And your inner self is no different: your dreams, feelings, your understanding of yourself and the world around you all go through many transformations as you move through the life cycle and mature. Your nature as an individual is to be constantly developing in complexity. And if you are in relationship, your nature is to be constantly developing in complexity as a couple as well.
Why Would You Assume That You Can Fully Know Another Person?
If you had a variety of painful experiences in your early relationships when you were little, this can make you especially wary of anything strange or different. Your brain is wired to protect you from danger above all else. It’s easy to see how the unknown could feel scary or threatening if your early relationships were less than secure.
This aversion to novelty can cause you to see your partner as static. Like many couples, you may find that after awhile of being together, the two of you fall into a more stable but fixed view of each other. You may fail to notice the depth of your partner and avoid anything that might lead to discovery or surprise between the two of you. This can create a sense of boredom and meaninglessness in your relationship.
Mind-Sharing Builds Intimacy
All of the couples I see in my office who suffer from this lack of spontaneity and aliveness in their relationship have one thing in common: At least one if not both members of the couple do not trust the other partner with their mind. This means they believe that a part of their experience should be kept secret from the other partner.
Secrecy in relationship is a surefire way to kill any sense of excitement and closeness. What builds intimacy is the exact opposite: The willingness to share your thoughts and feelings with each other, to rely on your partner to help you digest and organize your experience, and vice versa. Being interested and available to each other as you hang out in the unknown and discover how you think and feel together is one of the most powerful ways to reestablish intimacy.
Discover the Freshness of Being a Couple
If you feel that your relationship is lacking in freshness, vitality and wonderment and are looking for a couples therapist to walk with you every step of the way so you can reinvigorate your relationship, let’s connect on the phone so I can help you meet your goals much faster.
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