In this post, I want to comment on Eli J. Finkel’s article How to Fix the Person You Love. I’ll just change the focus and use the title, how to grow in a Relationship.
Eli elaborates on two different types of relationships. The first one represents a partner which makes us feel loved and valued, the second one represents a partner which helps us discover and actualize our best self. These two types of relationships work in very different ways.
The problem is that it is often hard to help someone grow without a sober and critical eye on that person’s behavior. And a critical eye can be a little discomforting, especially when we only expect to be valued without any type of critique. Such support can be tough or even brutal. Psychologists Nickola Overall and James McNulty have shown that spouses who use oppositional and even aggressive methods to inspire each other’s pursuit of goals can increase their partners’ effort and success in the long run, but these methods can cause distress in the short run.
In short, it is often difficult to give complacency shattering feedback while simultaneously preserving warmth, comfort and making the other person feel valued, loved and sexy.
Fortunately, it is possible to get both things. A relationship which plays an important role in the development of both parties while at the same time preserving a nurturing warmth. But this type of relationship requires sensitivity and attention. You can encourage your partner by reminding her that she can live up to her core values. Notice that your partner has to be sensitive enough to “get” what your statement means to them.
Personally, I think that this concept is incredibly important not only in romantic relationships but for personal growth in general. And personal growth is a big part of what reading books is about. 😉 The best way to increase sensitivity IMHO is meditation.
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Also published on Medium.