Source: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay
I like smart people and am fortunate to work professionally with many of them. Yet I am always surprised to discover the huge gaps that can exist between a person’s intellectual IQ and their relationship IQ.
By relationship IQ, I don’t mean knowing what you’re supposed to do in any situation. I mean your ability to behave according to what you know in any situation. Anyone can speak a good speech, especially during the initial romantic phase of a relationship when our openness and generosity of spirit flows effortlessly. How many of us can follow this talk for 10 years, especially when we are triggered? So I want to propose a series of questions that focus on your behaviors in your partnership. It is not a test of whether you know the correct answer – surely you know it – but whether you are able to act on it. Let’s start:
1. When you argue with your spouse, is it better to: a) give in to keep the peace, b) try harder to convince your partner why you are right so that they really understand where you are from, c) listen carefully to what your partner is saying and try to see it through their eyes, or d) bring up previous examples of similar problems to show your partner how they are trapped in a dysfunctional pattern?
2. When your partner is harassing you for something you consider a minor offense, should you a) go back and show them what it’s like to be talked about this way, b) take the higher path and explain to them why they are acting childish, c) turn around and go away, or d) give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is a good reason why they are temporarily not at their best?
3. When you have done something that you are not proud of, is it better to a) find a good time to tell your partner so that you don’t carry the burden alone and hope they understand, b) put it out of your mind and hope they never know , c) confide in one of their best friends to get their opinion if you need to tell your partner, or d) tell your friends because they won’t judge you or be mad at you?
4. When your feelings are hurt by something your partner has said or done, is it better to a) tell them how angry you are, b) say your feelings are hurt and think out loud with them what makes you especially sensitive about it, c) blame them for upset you because they ruined your day, or d) complain to your friends because they will understand you better than your partner ever will?
5. When you’ve clearly messed up in your relationship, is it better to a) stand up for yourself to show your partner the context in which you would act in such an unusual way, b) remind your partner that he has done similar things in the past, c) give a ” yes, but “partial apologies because it was not all your fault, d) walk up to the plate and say” yes I did and I’m sorry and I imagine my behavior made you to feel … “
As I said, the answers are pretty clear (c, d, a, b, d). You all got a perfect score and can enter an Ivy League relationship college. But what really matters in life is what we can do with our knowledge, how able we are to translate intellect into action, to behave according to our principles. Otherwise, we can espouse our relationship philosophies in coffee shops on first dates and seem to have moved on until our date finds out we’ve been married five times because we’re unlucky in the choice. of our partners. There is no test – not even raising children – that challenges us to live our standards as much as to be a decent person to our spouse. This is part of the reason why so many people can be such incredible successes in the outside world and have such a hard time in their personal relationships. It’s also why long-term relationships are incredible training grounds to help us become the compassionate, self-sacrificing, and selfless people we are here to be. There is nothing like a wedding to help us build “it’s not about me” muscle.
And before any of you write me to say that this can be a recipe for codependency and abuse, I know it is sometimes true. What I’m focusing on here is the need for all of us to take responsibility before concluding that our partner is the problem.
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