Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sharing Your Inner World

Young couple in bed sharing their inner thoughts.
        Our research has shown that couples who are satisfied with the sex in their relationship are intimately familiar with each other’s world. These couples have made plenty of cognitive room for their relationship. They remember the major events in each other’s history, and they keep updating their information as facts and feelings of their partner’s change. When she orders him a salad, she knows to ask for his dressing on the side. If she works late, he’ll tape her favorite TV show because he knows which one it is and when it’s on. So what does this have to do with sex? 

        The more you know about each other’s inner world, the more profound and rewarding your relationship will be, and the more passionate and intimate your lovemaking will be. We have designed a questionnaire in today’s post to guide you through some self-exploration and to help you share this exploration with your partner. Work on this exercise even if you and your spouse consider yourselves to be like open books. There’s always more to know about each other. Life changes us, so neither of you may be the same person that you were when you met five, ten, or fifty years ago. 

       Many of the questions in this exercise are powerful. It may be best to reserve this exercise for an uninterrupted stretch when you do not have work to do, deadlines to meet, phone calls to answer, or children (or anybody else) to look after. Most likely you won’t be able to complete this questionnaire in one sitting, nor should you try. Instead, break it up by section and do it slowly, over time together.

        Answer the questions in each section as candidly as you can. You don’t have to answer every aspect of each question – just respond to the parts that are relevant to your life. Write your answers in a private journal or notebook. When you’re ready, exchange notebooks and share with each other what you have written. Discuss each other’s entries and what this added knowledge implies for your marriage and the deepening of your friendship. Remember, better friends make better lovers. 

My Triumphs and Strivings: 

1. What has happened in your life that you are particularly proud of? What about your psychological triumphs, times when things went even better than you expected, periods when you came through trials and tribulations even better off.

2. How have these successes shaped your life? How have they affected the way you think of yourself and your capabilities?

3. What role has pride (that is, feeling proud, being praised, expressing praise for others) played in your life? Did your parents show you that they were proud of you when you were a child? How? How have other people responded to your accomplishments?

My Injuries and Healings 

1. What difficult events or periods have you gone through? Write about any significant psychological insults and injuries you have sustained, your losses, dissapointments, tials, and tribulations. Include periods of stress and duress, as well as any quieter periods of despair, hopelessness, and lonliness.

2. How did you strengthen and heal yourself? How did you redress your grievances? How did you revive and restore yourself?

3. How did you prevent and protect yourself against this ever happening again?

My Emotional World

1. What is your own philosophy about expressing feelings, particularly stress, anger, fear, pride, and love? Are any of these difficult for you to express or to see expressed by your partner? What is the basis of your perspective on this?

2. What differences exist between you and your partner in the area of expressing emotion? What is behind these differences?

3. During your childhood, did your family have to cope with a particular emotional problem, such as aggression between parents, a depressed parent, or a parent who was somewhat emotionally wounded? What implications does this have for your relationship and your other close friendships?

Who I Want to Become 

Take a moment now to reflect on what you have just written. We are all involved in becoming the person we most want to be. In that struggle we all have demons to fight and overcome.

1. Describe the person you want to become.

2. How can you best help yourself become that person? What are the small steps you need to take to get the ball rolling?

3. What would you most like to change about yourself?

4. What demons in yourself have you had to fight? Or still have to fight? 

        Again, do not rush through this exercise. If answered with care, these questions will help you develop greater personal insight and a more detailed map of each other's life and world. Getting to know your partner better and sharing your inner self with your partner will make your lovemaking much more personal and intimate.

The Gottman Institute  

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