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How Well Do You Know Your Partner?

For my birthday last year my wife made up a beautifully framed picture of my name, and then underneath it she listed 32 positive qualities I possess. Needless to say, it was one of the finest gifts I have ever received. Some of the qualities even taught me about me. After that wonderful gift, my wife, son and daughter (kids are 6 and 4 years old) put together a similar "Greatest Daddy" list for Father's Day last year that warms my heart to this day. It lists both behaviors and personal traits of me as a father. 

Today's topic is around this very thing… how well do you know your partner and how well are you known by your partner? Usually there's a passionate fire early in the relationship, which brings a desire to know everything about your new partner that there is to know. This is wonderful and a great way in which to become acquainted with one another. All good beginnings usually have many question and answer sessions. As you come to know each other at deeper and deeper levels, you become close friends. 

There's a dangerous myth (maybe more than one!) floating around about couples. It's once you know all there is about him or her, that's all there is to know. The truth is that you grow, adapt and change all the time. We all do. Unfortunately, unless you and your partner take time to know one another as you grow over time, you lose touch with who your partner is. This leads to a sense of disconnection, and the distance which follows, can cost you your friendship. A couple's friendship is vital to the long-term survival and quality of the relationship. 

Today is a primer for becoming re-acquainted with each other. It's not for scuffing, only for fun. Take time to answer each of the questions below and set a date… yeah, that's right - A DATE, and plan to share your answers with each other over a nice evening out somewhere.

  1. If my partner suddenly inherited a decent fortune what would they want to do?
  2. What does my partner value most in life?
  3. What are my partner's religious beliefs?
  4. What does my partner worry about the most?
  5. What are my partner's 3 most favorite movies and rock groups?
  6. Can my partner list the relatives I like the least?
  7. Does my partner know who my best friends are?
  8. Could your partner tell you in detail what his/her first reaction was to you when you met?
  9. Can your partner tell you what you stress over the most?
  10. Is your partner your best friend?

The fall from friendship to disillusionment usually begins 
2-3 years after marriage. Folks often are bewildered, saying, "What happened?" My wife and I can tell you from experience, both personal and professional, that a big part of what happens is what doesn't happen after that first year or two together. Once you feel you know all there is to know about your partner, conversations slow down and become more challenging. You stop asking questions, or you stop giving meaningful answers. This is when the "work" of marriage begins. It takes effort and interest to continue to ask, even when you think you already know the answer!

The great part is that you are not static, unchanging individuals. Your interests change as well as friendships; some friendships fade away and other new ones begin and flourish. New hobbies are discovered. Children may be added to make a family. Now the center of the relationship revolves around the babies. Babies teach you things you could have never learned had they not come along. You experience a new level of sacrifice, sleep for one! And you discover how you thought about parenting may really be different than how you are actually doing it. 

See, you are always in a state of growth. The same questions asked today may bring fresh responses as you each grow. Continue to build your relationship into one of the best friendships you have. I may call it "work" but it's the best work you can do for the happiness of the relationship.


May your relationship bring happiness!

Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach

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"The first year he speaks and she listens.  The second year she speaks and he listens.  The third year they both speak and the neighbors listen."

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Ask Dave!


Hello Dave,

I am only 19 years old and I suffer from an extreme case of
depression.  I have been diagnosed, but no one knows other than my therapist-who helped none- because I have become excellent at acting. 

I am so unhappy all the time and it is ruining my life.  I can't focus
on my school work.  I can't be happy anymore.  I am so young and I want to live a normal existence.  I just want to remember what it feels like to be sincerely happy.  Please help and thanks so much.



Hi Colleen,

I am sorry to hear of your struggle.  First, and the most important step, it's important to know that you are not alone in your battle against depression.  So many people put on an "act" when they are depressed.  You are not unlike so many who are afraid that if someone knows the real truth...

And most fill in the blanks with terrible things.  The fact is that your struggle with depression does not make you a bad person.  Would you judge me as a bad person if I struggled with Diabetes?  Isn't it amazing how we attach judgment to disorders such as depression, when they are as legitimate as any other medical disorder.

The first step in recovery is the awareness that you struggle with depression.  You have that.  Good work!  The second step is a deep-enough acceptance of the problem to take action.  You've even gone that far, in securing a therapist.

The next step for you is to go back to your therapist and let him/her know you'd like to begin again... this time making the choice to be as honest as you need to be to receive the help you deserve in recovering from depression.  Your life is yours to claim.  All my best in that endeavor!

Dave Turo-Shields 


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