Learning Makes For Outstanding Relationships

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John (22), Karen (19) on 6/21/80. John’s dad, Pastor Jimmy Miller, officiates.

Got relational problems? If so, here’s how to solve them!

The Challenge Of Relationships

After 40+ years of marriage, Karen and I understand our relational struggles better than ever. One of those challenges is I’m “harder” on people than she is. In her mind, sometimes too much so.

You see, in Myers-Briggs language, she’s a Feeler, I’m a Thinker. If you know the Enneagram and its nine personality types, Karen’s a 2, I’m an 8. The bottom line is she spends 85% of her time thinking about relationships. And … I don’t.

We see the world differently because we’re very different.

One Story About Us

When I recently told my wife of a guy who “spammed” (yes, the word I used) me by email with his marketing info and blog, I knew we’d see it differently.

The sender is a “leadership coach” I don’t know. For some reason, he decided I should now be on his list, though I never “opted in.”

Turns out, this man is also a fan of the QBQ! book. Of course, there’s no way I would’ve known that when I replied, “Please remove me from this list. Thanks!”

Trust me, when I shared this with Karen, the first thing I saw in her eyes were questions like, Were you nice to him? Did you hurt his feelings? Why not be on his list and read all his stuff and send him kudos every other week? Maybe you should do coffee with him?

Um, nope. You see, we’re different. 

Relationships Are Best When We Understand Each Other

The good news is her response didn’t surprise me — and rarely does anymore. This is critical, as it enables me to not react in a negative fashion. Hence, I don’t say anything I’ll regret.

Conversely, she lets me be me. Mostly. ?

How did we get here? It’s not complicated. For two people who’ve been best friends since age 18 and 16, we’ve made it this far by … learning.

As the QBQ! says, learning is not about acquiring knowledge from reading a book or attending a training session. The truth about learning is this:

Learning equals change.

If I’ve not changed, I’ve not learned. When I change my thinking, emotions, and behaviors for the better, all will be and is better, especially when two people are different. How different are we?

• When donating to charity, Karen gives time, energy, labor. I write a check.
• With choices before us, she asks, “How will this impact others?’’ I ask, “How will it impact me?”
• I make fast decisions, sometimes wrong. Her decisions are deliberate, rarely wrong.
• I’m verbal; I process externally. She processes internally, where her rivers run deep.
• She needs friends outside the home. I don’t. She is my friend, which can be, shall we say, suffocating for her. ?

Some would say these differences might make a couple “incompatible.” We just decided these differences required us to learn … and change. So we did — and still are. That’s why we’ll hit 41 years in June … and life is good.

In fact, the relationship is, dare I say, outstanding. Learning really is a good thing. ??

When it comes to your most important relationship, are you learning and changing? Share!

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5 Responses

  1. Thanks John for sharing this awesome testimony! My husband and I have 21 years married, 23 years together and my goodness…we are still, yes, still learning one another. At least that is how we categorize it! 🙂 Your words of wisdom gives me hope that there’s no expiration date on learning about others you hold dear in your heart, especially your spouse and it’s further proof that we are not alone in this.
    We are well, with occasional bumps in the road, and with staying at home during Covid, we now have proof that we are a couple “meant to be”! I love to deliberate and talk things out, him…not so much. Oh well, until he finds that magic wand that he can wave and suddenly I am convinced he’s always right, I guess he will have to endure the discussions. I have changed in an effort to compromise by agreeing on “how long at a time” we talk about edgy matters! This seems to work to our advantage. The only problem is that I will not bend on how many of sessions we may have until we get to the bottom of such matters. (SMILE)! I hope AMAZON never decides to sell such wands!

  2. Love this! Learning IS about changing, not just knowledge. My husband and I were married on your 5th anniversary, together 27 years. We have “learned” a lot in the past 35+ years, as you have. And, it’s ironic, but my husband is a lot like you (quick decisions, impact to him, processes verbally, out the mouth sometimes before the brain processes, does then thinks through), and I am the opposite, very similar to your wife (relationship driven, how it impacts others, deliberates sometimes too long, and process internally). Amazing that we have shared a life this long when comparing with some of our friends. Maybe it’s the June 21st weeding date….. I’ll just go with that! I love reading your blogs! Keep them coming!

  3. Hi John, My bride and I will reach 42 years of marriage next month. She and I are very different in ways similar to what you express for yourself and Karen. Continuously learning. Life is good.

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