Part I

Ronn Elmore, Psy.d

Imagine for a minute that your marriage were a business venture. Would it be a huge success or a major flop?

Would your spouse be a very content team member–or looking around for another gig?

Our most intimate and significant relationships don’t always get the time, attention, and sacrifice that we give to our work. Here’s a success principle from the business world that could be even more beneficial when applied to your marriage:

Know Your Customer—Inside and Out

To succeed in business, it’s critical to understand your customer base in great detail.

People communicate in very different ways. You’d do well to clear on which way is your spouse’s way

Visual people process information and express themselves chiefly by relying on what they see.  For example, a visual person might describe her spouse by using vivid words like: “He’s about 6 feet tall, with broad shoulders and salt-and pepper curls, big, brown eyes. And, he’s always nodding his head like he’s listening to music no one else can hear.”

Auditory people take in the world by focusing more on what they hear. They might describe their spouse by saying: “She compliments me all the time, and says the sweetest things”, “When she’s really happy, she giggles a lot, talks fast and her voice goes all girly and high pitched.

Kinesthetic people rely heavily on how they feel and they learn by hands-on experience. They might describe their spouse in this way: “I get butterflies in my stomach when she walks in the room. when she’s around”, “She holds my hand”, “He’s cuddly & warm”, “I feel safe and comfortable in his arms.”

Each of us has all three of these traits in us, though one of them will definitely be dominant in every spouse. To discover which one your mate is, pay very close attention to the words they choose, so you can adjust yourself to “speak” their language.

Before my wife discovered I was visual, she would get frustrated with me because she would explain her feelings about something over and over and I just didn’t get it. I kept saying, “I don’t SEE what you mean. I can’t PICTURE what you want from me.”

But now, when she wants me to understand something, like why she’s feeling what she’s feeling, she often uses examples, illustrations, and comparisons to paint a clearer picture for me.

The Secret to Success

Why does she go through all that? It’s because she understands her “customer”—me—and the best ways to engage and retain me for the benefit of our “business”.

Think of your spouse as your #1 customer. Don’t risk losing your most important account by ignoring his or her particular communication style, personality traits, their approach to conflict resolution, or their natural romance/affection/sexual “language”.

Save yourself the hassle and heartache by paying close attention to how your spouse processes and communicates and … and make an effort to adjust your style to serve what’s most natural to him or her.

It can make all the difference between the health of your marriage being as strong and robust as a Fortune 500 company or as shaky as an underfunded start-up.

See Part II, “If Your Marriage Were a Business,” in a few days.

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