A Different Perspective
I have noticed that a new perspective can have a powerful impact on a marriage. We are so often stuck in our own vantage point and are unable to see how this perspective blocks any other.
Many couples have heard about and consumed Gary Chapman’s book The Five Languages of Love. In this book, the author suggests that we often convey our love to our partner in the way that we like to be loved. This is usually not received in the way it’s intended, and spouses feel disconnected.
Consider the hypothetical example of Kyle and Taylor. Kyle was raised in a family where his father regularly bought his mother and the children gifts as a way to show his love. He worked long hours and was able to afford nice things for Kyle’s mom. As Kyle grew up, he missed time with his dad but learned that if you love someone, you give them nice things. Taylor was raised in a family where there wasn’t a lot of money, but they had lots of fun together. On many occasions, Taylor would hear her parents complement each other. They would also often be heard telling others about their positive impressions about their spouse. Taylor learned that to show love you tell your partner of your positive feelings.
When Taylor and Kyle attend therapy, they advised they have been married for two years, and each is feeling unloved. All Kyle wants is quality time with his wife because he missed out on that from his father. He has been giving Taylor lots of gifts and what he gets in return is verbal affirmation. In the beginning, he felt cared about, but now the words feel vacant. He is lonely and doesn’t know how to get Taylor’s attention. Taylor, on the other hand, worries they are getting into debt because of the gifts Kyle continues to give her with no consultation with her. The value of the gifts are increasing, and she is feeling lonely and worries that she will be in a situation again, where she is financially insecure.
They enter therapy, telling the therapist they have been trying hard to love their partner, but they feel like it’s just not working. The therapist identifies that each is trying to please each other with the love language they appreciate. Taylor is giving verbal affirmation but feels criticized by Kyle. Kyle is giving gifts but is not getting the quality time he craves.
The therapist then asked Kyle to stop buying gifts and to tell Taylor something he appreciates about her every day. Kyle was hesitant because he doesn’t feel like telling Taylor anything positive. He agrees to do so for the upcoming week. He also agreed to tell someone else how much he loves and appreciates Taylor while he knows she is listening.
“Sometimes the assistance of a third-party therapist can assist a couple see the forest despite the trees.”
The therapist asked Taylor to spend 30 minutes every day, entirely focussing on Kyle. She initially predicts this will not work, but eventually, Taylor agreed to ask Kyle about how his day is. She agrees to put her phone away and to reminisce about some of her favourite times with Kyle.
While this intervention alone cannot solve the concerns each brings to marital therapy, it is an example of how taking on your partner’s perspective is powerful. If it were just that easy everyone would do it. Sometimes the assistance of a third-party therapist can assist a couple see the forest despite the trees. When we believe we have tried our best, it is time to try something a little different.
Give me a call and share how your current ability to take on your partner’s perspective may be a strength or an area of growth.
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