The principles of cognitive therapy are not only helpful in counseling couples; they can guide us in the preventive and proactive care of our relationships – before we fall out of love.
Our feelings, thoughts and actions interact and influence one another. Our feelings filter how we see one another. Our thoughts influence our emotional reactions. Our behaviour is motivated by both our thoughts and feelings. We interpret the behaviour of others with assumptions that may or may not be accurate, and our interpretations shape how we feel about them.
To simplify our lives, we naturally and unconsciously develop assumptions about one another. We develop fairly rigid schema or cognitive frameworks in our minds that are in short simplified ways of thinking about one another.
This is helpful in many ways. You don’t have to reintroduce yourself to the person waking up next to you in bed or have a deep conversation with the one sitting across from you at the breakfast table each morning.
On the other hand, our rigid conceptions can keep us from seeing the whole person – one who is complex, growing and evolving. We make assumptions about one another and we may fail to talk, listen and understand how we really feel and think.
Many couples tend to caricature one another and we tend to do this in a negative way. “She always does this.” “He never does that.” In reality, few of us are that consistent.
In upcoming posts, I’ll explore the common communication traps we fall into and how we can keep the flower of love alive.
Dr. Davidicus Wong is a physician and writer. His Positive Potential Medicine radio show is at pwrnradio.com.