Your Partner is Your Customer

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Your Partner is Your Customer

Let's say you own a business. You depend on your customers for the success of your business and your livelihood as well. If your customer has a complaint, would you ignore it? Would you raise your voice, perhaps telling your customer they don't know what they are taking about? Would you storm out of your customer's office or business? Would you cross complain telling them they are not good customers that they, for example, do not buy enough of your product or appreciate the value of your product?

No, no way. You would never do that. You might even solicit feedback from your customer to make sure your meeting their needs. So why do we sometimes treat our partners like we do? Perhaps it is because we care more about our partners that we do for our customers. We are more threatened by their complaints. We become defensive. They are family. When we were children our family, our parents, loved us no matter what we did or did not do. We are hurt because our partner does not unconditionally accept us. We feel anger and anger is a cover feeling for hurt. Underneath anger are hurt feelings.

How do we get past the hurt feelings, the anger, at not being unconditionally accepted? We make an effort to listen. We try to empathize with our partner. Rather than reacting out of emotion we take time to deal with our anger/hurt feelings. We validate our partner's feelings saying to them, "I understand what your saying…how can I make this right?"

Remember, the happier your partner is the happier you will be. Having a dissatisfied, unhappy customer is a problem you do not want to have. Also, if there are children involved, or you are planning on having them, there is no greater gift you can give them than a happy relationship with your partner.

Key Points

1. Your life partner is your customer.
2. If your partner has a complaint, attend to it.
3. Regularly ask your partner how well they are feeling about the relationship.
4. Do everything you can to make your customer/partner happy.
5. The happier your partner is the happier you will be.
6. There is no greater gift you can give your children than a good relationship.

Improving Your Relationship


Improving Your Relationship

John Gottman, a professor at the University of Washington, wrote a most interesting book in 1994, Why Marriages Succeed or Fail? Most previous books on relationships were written by therapists based upon their experience with a limited number of couples. Couples they worked with in their practices. Doctor Gottman's book is a summary of his research based upon data collected in laboratory type conditions. The data was gleaned from audio and video tapes of interactions of hundreds of couples. Below is a summary of the key points of that book.

    • Try to be empathetic: Understand that you’re both going through difficult times. Your partner is as upset as you are. Perhaps more so.

    • Try to focus on your mate’s positive qualities…the reasons why you were attracted to them at the start of your relationship. In this way, you can reduce the likelihood that damaging contempt will enter your relationship. Insults, name-calling, hostile humor, mockery, and inappropriate body language have no place in a relationship.

    • Try not to be defensive: Avoid denying responsibility, making excuses, negative mind reading (e.g., “I know she/he does not want to be with me”), cross-complaining, “rubber man/rubber woman” comments, yes-butting, repeating yourself, whining, body language. Try to accept your partner’s anger. Remember that anger is your partner’s way of getting your attention. Anger is a cover feeling. Underneath anger are hurt feelings

    • Try not to stonewall: Be open, willing to talk and discuss issues in your relationship. Carve out time, several days a week, to discuss your relationship. Stonewalling creates a negative marital environment that can be deadly to a marriage.

    • Try to give each other time to deal with emotions: Some of us need to talk a lot about how we feel in order to come to terms with our feelings, others need to go off and be alone to do that. Try to be accepting of the ways that the other deals with his or her feelings.

    • Try to give your partner positive attention: Remember that a ratio of 5 positive interactions (e.g., fun times out, pleasant conversations, good sex, etc.) for each negative interaction is necessary for maintaining a satisfying relationship.

    • Try to validate: Let your partner know that you understand him or her. An example of a validating statement is "I understand how you might be upset by…"

    Keep trying: The above are all skills, and skills get better with practice.