The fabulous and the horrible thing about marriage is that we process information very differently from our partner. While this can lead to incredible creativity, it can also lead to stuckness. The thing you want to get working on before you get married, or even start planning is how to maximize your ability to complement one another’s way of thinking before you settle into bad habits of arguing or withholding important information. (Withholding a great way to build a grudge and ruin a relationship!)
So how do you think about things and how do you reason them through? There are also lots of tests that help you identify how you create and how you problem solve. But you may just want to sit down and take a look at this, separately and together. Who knows, you might wind up knowing a lot more about yourself and finding even more reasons to respect your partner!
If you’re too different, it can make life difficult. But those differences can be lessened if you just figure out how each of you thinks about things and find ways to enhance one another’s thinking. You want to be a couple who respects and values one another’s opinions. You want to be people who seek your partner out because you know they will have something to add to the way you think about things. So:
- How do you get your information? Are you a reader? A listener?
- Once you have it what do you need to do with it? Mull? Or discuss?
- How do you feel about input? When is it helpful?
- When you ask someone to think with you are you asking to close the problem or open it up?
- Can you live with stuff that isn’t tied up neatly at the end?
- How do you think your partner is like you or not like you?
- How much mental messiness can you tolerate?
Figure out what works for your partner AND understand that that doesn’t make your partner wrong.
This is really difficult. But the payoff if you can get this working is enormous. This is what keeps you dashing home to find out what your partner will think about this, or what your partner is going to share with you. This is what makes you listen to your partner at a party because you know something new and interesting is coming.
Most of us don’t do this well. All of us could do better. So sit down. Ask yourself these questions and then look at your answers with your partner. Think about how you can make your process more accessible to your partner and give your partner more of what they need.
Tip: Can’t do it all on your own? That’s hardly surprising! Go find an old copy of David Keirsey and Marilyn Bate’s Please Understand Me and read it together. It’s great. You’ll find out so much about yourself and loads about your partner. Or find a personality test that works for you. Or a counselor that can help you. This is a partnership worth polishing. If you work at this, you’ll be happy, your partner will be happy and people will point to you and say, “I want us to have a marriage like that!” Now who doesn’t want that?