We all want our couple relationship to be healthy and happy. The problem is we don’t always know or understand why it isn’t, which means we also don’t know how to improve our relationship. There is something partners need that is often not well enough developed to solve this problem and it is called couple mindedness.
What is Couple Mindedness?
Put simply, couple mindedness is having the ability and skills to think deeply about the three entities that make up a couple relationship – these include the two individual partners, as well as the relationship that they have both created. It is critical to the health of a couple relationship to be able to reflect on how these three entities are doing at different times.
People come to see me as a therapist because this is what I do. I help them think about what is going on in their minds and to think about their relationship, and through this process, they learn to do this for themselves. It’s about developing minds that can think about their own couple relationship. This is couple mindedness. Without this, partners often have fights, blame each other, say hurtful things, try to control each other, feel insecure or unsafe, or walk on eggshells without knowing why.
Couple Mindedness is About Knowing Why
And there are two parts to it:
The first part of couple mindedness is from the work of Professor Dan Siegel, who came up with the term ‘mindsight’ (seeing the mind) to describe the ability to see inside our own mind and other people’s.
Mindsight is an important aspect of couple mindedness. Imagine dropping a microphone in your own mind or your partner’s mind to amplify what is really going on there, and asking why? When we or our partner react to something or use words or a tone of voice, we can think about why that reaction, why those words or tone of voice? Mindsight is about questioning “Why does he suddenly look upset?”, “Why am I feeling lonely?” or “Why am I anxious” or “What did she just respond to, have I been too dismissive?”
Can you see that by asking these questions and thinking deeply it is not simplistically labeling or judging ourselves or someone else as “cruel”, “sulky” or “selfish”? These labels happen often in couple relationships and can cause upset and or even fights. It is about looking beneath the surface, and not simply making assumptions or judgments about yourself or your partner. It is deeper and more caring than that and can decrease fights and make a relationship significantly happier.
The second essential part of couple mindedness is having minds that think about the quality and wellbeing of the couple relationship. How do we do this? It is the partners who need to do this. At certain times we need to assess whether the relationship feels good or not, whether we need a bit more fun together, whether we need more sex, whether we are spending enough time with our partner, whether we are feeling a bit distant from our partner or them from us, whether we need to put a regular date night in, whether we need a couple break away from the kids, or even whether we may need to get some therapy to help the relationship.
Without this part of couple mindedness, we cannot make changes when needed, and this ability is vital for a healthy relationship.