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Relationships are not easy. Love, especially the form of love that typically takes us into marriage, is not a very holdfast type of glue. Her tinkling laugh too quickly turns into a hyena’s shriek; his six-pack abs dissolve overnight into a six-pack beer-belly.

To create and sustain the most fulfilling relationships we need to be forgiving of ourselves and tolerant of our partners. This difficult process is aided by generous helpings of self- and other-knowledge. If I know that your hurtful behavior toward me results from an unavoidable aspect of your personality, I am less likely to take issue with it and escalate the pain.

For example, I once held the rather obscure belief that if I loved someone therefore they should do what I wanted. This seems bizarre until I realize that this is exactly the dynamic which many parents use to coerce their children into behaving the way they want them to. Translated, it reads: “I love you, even though you are completely and essentially unlovable, and the least you can do in return is to fall in line with my desires.”

Sure, mom!

Despite the obvious benefits of knowing what we’re dealing with, many couples show a distinct reluctance to find out where they stand in terms of the personal predispositions they bring into their relationships.

This is odd, because they are attempting to avoid articulating the behavior they are manifesting. What do they think? That we haven’t noticed how they need to control everyone in sight, or dive into the armchair at the first opportunity?!

The problem seems to be that our predispositions have been so associated with blameworthiness that we feel forced to deny them even when anyone can see they’re true. That’s when trouble ensues.

Far more useful to confront this one head on, before you concretize any form of partnership. Then you can protect you and your partner from future pain which might range from minor to very major indeed. I’ve compiled a simple test to help people understand this aspect of their relationships. It’s free, and can be found here: Dynamic Relationship Coaching Personal Predisposition Questionnaire.

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