One of the most difficult spots in couple therapy occurs when both partners are convinced they know each other. They say things like, "I knew you were going to say that." Or, "I know how you'll respond if I do that." Or, "I know what she thinks about that." This stance poisons efforts to change. It locks the relationship in repeated, unproductive interactions. Conventional wisdom suggests it's important to know your partner. I'm not so sure about that. It seems to me that it's important to try to get to know your partner. It's important to always help your partner get to know you. But, to arrive at "knowing" is to arrive at a dead end. Doing new things in a relationship (a prerequisite to changing anything) doesn't make sense if I "know" how my partner will respond. So, it seems important to actively cultivate a sense of "not knowing" if improving the relationship is a goal. "Not knowing" may bring with it a degree of uncertainty and anxiety. But, it also brings with it a real opportunity for change. It creates a space within which new things are allowed to emerge.
Jake Thiessen, PhD
I've been working with couples for a very long time. And, I love it! This blog is my attempt to communicate some of the things I've learned over the past 35 years.