Partner Interaction: How to Improve
Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Dr. Craig Martin, author of Elemental Love Styles: What else is interesting about your book, Elemental Love Styles, is that you have dialogue between people throughout the book exhibiting different elemental styles, and staying true to their elemental self, you suggest ways to improve the way they interact with their partners.
Similarly, you have questions that you field from people where your answers suggest, “From your question, it appears that this is something that you as an earth person are facing with someone who sounds like a water person.”
Most of our listeners probably haven’t read your book yet. Can you give us one example of one of the questions that you’ve fielded where you were able to identify, “This sounds like an earth person and a water person?”
Dr. Craig Martin
There are many examples.
Partner Interaction: Earth & Fire
I work with one man who is very earthy.
- He is a hospital administrator.
- His wife is a lovely woman but she’s very fiery. She’s very bold and take charge.
- He’s very dependable and reliable.
Their relationship is very good.
Partner Interaction: Money Spending Issue
One thing that really makes him crazy is the way she spends money. He’s very practical and concerned with their finances.
She’s very much of the idea, “Everything will get taken care of in the end,” which is easy for her to say because he’s the principal breadwinner.
Partner Interaction: Earth Viewpoint
One of their conflicts is about credit cards and credit card spending. He says, “She wants to buy new outfits for the children.” He wants to know if those things are really necessary.
Partner Interaction: Fire Viewpoint
On her side of it, she has questions to ask herself. “Does the way that I spend money make my husband feel unstable?”
These are the things that I might discuss with them in person in couples counseling.
She’s not spending to make him crazy. She’s spending because she wants the newest outfit for her kids. She’s very creative. She’s not spending it on herself. It’s not about selfishness.
She wants to see her vision of the family and their home. That’s the way she is. That’s a fiery style person.
Partner Interaction: Fire Confrontation
When he confronts her with that, rather than getting defensive, she needs to be able to say, “Is this making him feel unstable?”
An earth style person will feel that way if they don’t feel financially secure. Can she do that?
Those are the questions that I pose to her.
Partner Interaction: Voice of Counsel
I would say, “You want a lot. You want your creative vision out and about in the world. You want to see your children dressed the most neatly. You want the nicest, new things in your kitchen. You want the nicest, new accessories for everyone in the car. But how is that affecting him?”
Partner Interaction: Fiery Anger
For the fiery style person, she’s asking herself, “Am I demanding? Am I overbearing? Am I domineering? Am I demanding those things?”
Perhaps she gets angry at him when he says, “I noticed that you spent a couple thousand dollars on this credit card this month. I asked you to keep it under one thousand for childhood/family expenses.”
Then don’t get angry at him. Are you being over-expectatious? Do you expect too much?
We work with him on his side about being too rigid or if there are too many rules that he might be following.
Partner Interaction: Earth Boundaries
If he says “Under $1,000” does that mean if she spends $800 one month, she can’t spend $1,200 the next month? Does that freak him out?
How can he extend his boundaries and still feel comfortable about that?
We work on those kinds of limitations within them as a couple as one example.
Partner Interaction: Behavior
Obviously, there are hundreds of examples of different people and the way in which they interact. The way in which people work it out is not by reflecting on what someone else is doing to them, but taking responsibility for what they’re bringing to the table.
It always comes back to the way that we behave. Incredible healings can occur in relationships.
I’ve seen marriages that are on their last leg. People come in and sit here with me or discuss it over the phone. I’m able to say, “This is what you’re not really hearing from each other. Why are you blaming each other? Why don’t you both individually own what it is that you’re both brining to the table?”
Partner Interaction: Take Responsibility
Something that’s very important in relationships is being able to say, “This is what I’m doing that makes it difficult. I can own that.” I think that, naturally, we don’t want to assume that role.
- We’re almost taught that we shouldn’t accept any responsibility.
- We shouldn’t admit to any mistakes.
- We shouldn’t make ourselves vulnerable like that.
In order to have an intimate relationship with someone else, we have to. That’s not an easy process, to be able to say, “Okay, you’re right. I see this is where I’m doing this.” It’s about owning up to it.
Partner Interaction: Forgive and Forget
There is a forgiving relationship, where the other person says, “That’s cool No problem.” They love it when you are able to see it and change it.
In a good relationship, the other person will say, “That’s fine. No problem. Thanks for seeing that.” Rather than it being, “Oh my God. I’m going to admit to something right now that I just did that’s shameful or wrong. I made a mistake and the other person is going to reject me for it.”
Partner Interaction: Parent & Child
I find that a lot of rejection happens in parent/child relationships.
We think that’s going to happen in adult relationships but it doesn’t really always happen that way. As adults, if we weren’t capable of forgiving other people for their indiscretions, we wouldn’t be able to have a relationship with anyone.
That’s right. We’re all fallible.
Dr. Craig Martin
Partner Interaction: Expectation of the Other
What’s funny in that parent/child relationship with that conditioning is that parents have so many expectations.
- You should be married by now.
- You should have children by now.
- This should be your career. You should be this.
When you’re not that, you could say, “I’m sorry,” but they don’t say, “Thank you for knowing it.” They just say, “Well, change it.”
There is not a lot of forgiveness and understanding of our flaws or what they perceive as our flaws. We bring some of those fears to romantic relationships.
It would be much easier to say, “I’m looking for someone that I can be real with.” It’s not easy.
You quoted the book from that passage. Real relationships are going to be about being real. We have to be ourselves.
If we plan on marrying someone or living with them, they’re going to find out about who we are.
What difficulties do you with your partner interactions? Share with us in the comments section below.
The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Dr. Craig Martin.
The entire interview transcript is at: Dr. Craig Martin Interview – Find Compatibility and Create a Lasting Relationship
Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show
Listen to the entire interview on iTunes