Individual Counseling, Couples Counseling and Sex Therapy

Ignorance of Long-Term Couples

According to the November 6, 2010 issue of Science News, researchers in Switzerland have discovered that the longer people are married to each other, the more ignorant they become of their partner’s likes and dislikes.  Two psychologists studied 38 young (19 – 32 years of age) and 20 older (62 – 78 years of age) couples.  The younger couples were able to accurately predict their partner’s food preference 47% of the time, but older couples were only able to do so 40% of the time.  Similar ratios were found with regard to movies and kitchen design preferences.  According to the article by Bruce Bower, this is due to the fact that older couples pay less attention to one another because they are more firmly rooted in their relationship. Compounding the issue, older people were also more over-confident in their ability to predict likes and dislikes than the newer couples were.

It’s the old “taken for granted” syndrome.  Familiarity breeds laziness.  Not good.  As a relationship counselor, I fight every day to help couples overcome this phenomenon.  It’s twin sister, “I can read your mind”, is also a problem.  Spouses, especially when married for a long time, think that they can predict what their partner is thinking.  This is not a problem when they are correct.  But when they are not…Amazingly, I’ve actually seen situations where the partner has to argue with the mind-reader about what he or she is actually thinking.

Understanding and awareness of this general mind-reading tendency in long-term relationships is just the first step.  Couples need to develop new behaviors, which can be challenging for long-term couples.  Further complicating things, old resentments and emotions may be tied up with the mind-reading.  If that is the case, it may be time to visit your relationship counselor.

To get more information about the benefits of relationship counseling, please visit my website, and take the relationship quiz, or give me a call at (813) 404-9215.

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