Snap! Taking Each Other Seriously

In the following chapter of our new book, Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, Dr. Pepper and I go over how important it is to treat each other's tastes and beliefs seriously. Enjoy this other free sample!

Whenever your partner takes a stand about something that’s important to him or her — even if it’s over how a steak should be cooked — listen. Any meta-message that says “This is important to me” should be important to you. A good rule to remember is a simple one: Know what is important to your partner and allow it to be important to you, no matter how trivial. We all have things that are important to us that may not seem like such a big deal to someone else. It is a mistake to think that your partner can always know the significance of these things to you, yet it is also incumbent on a partner to learn what is significant to you. Part of being a couple is remembering that there are two of you.

If you go to Starbucks, you know that every customer has a very specific way he or she wants coffee, and it seems sometimes like no two are the same. Each person wants a particular type of coffee and a specific type of milk, with or without froth, at an exact temperature, with the right flavorings. Oh, yes, and how many shots of espresso do you want for this particular order? Is it all really important? YES. Just watch if a customer’s coffee is not precisely what he or she ordered. All these details matter to people.

Think of it another way: If your partner only likes steaks really rare, and you will only grill them well done, what does that say? Yes, it’s “only” a steak, but not knowing or caring about the details of your partner’s life and desires says a lot of unflattering things about the relationship. Let’s reverse that observation and put it in a positive frame: Making your partner’s preferences a priority and giving your partner what he or she wants communicates that you care enough to remember what matters and do your best to provide it.

Learning all the little things that matter to your partner is more than service or a peace offering. It is an act of love, and most partners recognize it as such. When you remember that she likes a bouquet of sunflowers rather than roses, you are saying, “I love you, I think about you, I know you well and, based on that knowledge, I try to please you.” The added bonus is that you feel great because you know you are being loving, using the knowledge that is only acquired over time in a very intimate relationship. It is a gift to both of you.

This last point is one we wish to underline. Giving is, of course, part of being in a good relationship: It is part of bonding, of creating the “you and me” couple identity. When the gift is one that comes from knowledge that no one else knows because no one else loves this person as much as you do (besides, maybe, his parents!), it develops the feeling of being truly and deeply mated. Remember, it might seem trivial to you, but it’s not trivial to your partner.

As always, for the other pages of the chapter and the rest of the book, order here!