Part Three: “Why do you act like that?” Lifetime experiences

Education. How were you educated: homeschooled, private school, parochial school, or public school? How did your teachers and coaches treat you? Were you a part of the in-crowd or not? Was school easy or difficult for you? Who were the people who influenced you (for good or bad) during your formative years?

Stability. Did your family move a lot, or did you stay in one area? Was your family an active part of the community, or did they stay to themselves? Did you know your neighbors? Were you raised in a family where there was plenty of money or a shortage thereof? What did your parents teach you about money?

Friendships. As a youth, did you make friends easily? What kinds of friends did you have?

Autonomy. Were you allowed to try different things without the close protection of your parents? Were you allowed to fail? How did the most important people in your life react to your success/failure?

Respect. Were you taught to respect yourself and others? Did your parents respect you? Did you respect them? Were you verbally or physically abused?

Emotions. Were expressions of love a common thing in your home? What about negative emotions such as anger, hate, resentment, etc.? Could you express them without censure?

As you grow up, you encounter all the good and bad that life has to offer. You are faced with temptations, opportunities, hardships, pleasures, irritations, victories, defeats, shame, honor, blunders, successes, failures, etc., etc., etc. As time goes by, you learn to handle most of the challenges; however, each one impacts us differently.

When one half of a loving couple watches the other go through one of life’s challenges, he/she may ask, “Why do you act like that?” The answer could be, “That’s how I learned to cope when I was young.” But we don’t say that because most of us don’t realize that our reactions are a result of the totality of our life experiences and they are different, in some cases, profoundly different than our mates.

Different life experiences, when blended in a loving relationship, either hinder or enhance togetherness, depending on the ability of the people involved to understand, endure, and support each other. Too many couples are unwilling to work through the differences in their understanding of life. They take the easy way out and part company (divorce) before they ever discover the depth and beauty of the one they promised to “love, honor, and cherish until we are parted by death.”

Would you like to move your love relationship to a new level of intimacy and self-awareness? Would you like to awaken new ways to love and understand your mate? Take the list above and talk about your varying life experiences with your mate. Because of innate differences discussed in Part Two, women will find this much easier to do than men, but it’s worth the effort because you want to grow in love and understanding of each other.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Ross is a prolific writer, entertaining speaker, and engaging thought-leader. He's written several books, published hundreds of newspaper columns, and led a variety of seminars. He lives in Loveland, Colo.