Jeff Lutes

Spice Up Your Love Life: Question #2

Filed By Jeff Lutes | October 12, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: gay couples, intimacy, lesbian couples, love, same-sex relationships

Thumbnail image for gay couple.jpgLast week I began a three-month series of research-based questions that can enhance same-sex relationships if both partners are willing to have honest and open conversations about their responses. We began with the question "Imagine that you and your partner have gathered eight of your closest friends and seated them comfortably in your living room. If you asked them to describe your relationship with rigorous honesty, what do you imagine they might say? What might they say they have observed about how you and your partner relate?

This week, I ask an important question inspired from my experience doing couples therapy. When couples come into my office for the first time they invariably launch into a litany of concerns about the other and a barrage of requests (or demands) that the other change his or her behaviors. It is perhaps human nature to assume that uncomfortable or problematic issues in a relationship are caused by the other person's poor choices, attitudes, or ways of acting. We almost never stop to reflect upon ourselves first. So this week's question is:

2. In what ways do you aspire to be a better partner to the one you love? Name two or three areas that you would like to personally improve. Now - write down concrete action steps for the next month that will help you move just one notch closer to becoming that person.

Here are the instructions for sharing these answers with each other, in case you missed them last week:

To have this conversation, each of you should take turns in the speaking and listening positions. When you are in the speaking position, simply read the question and then read your answer. The partner in the listening position pays attention to the speaker until they are finished talking. Then, the listener tries to mirror back what they heard using their partner's own words as much as possible without adding or subtracting ideas. The listener does not comment on, or argue with, the speaker's words - they simply reflect what they've heard with the goal of having the speaker feel heard and understood. It's a good idea for the listener to pause occasionally during their reflection and ask, "Did I get that right?" This allows the speaker to clarify. When the speaker feels heard by the listener, its time to switch positions.

Good luck and please let me know what the experience of answering this question was like for the two you.

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