I was invited to a couple’s hang out a few weeks back, we played this game where
we were all asked to pick a small card from a bag and whatever word was written
on the card, we were asked to explain a recent time our spouse displayed that
One of the men at the meeting said something under his breath that was a major
reminder for me. He said the first thing to do is define the word. He was right,
probably in ways he wasn’t even aware of.
Our experience, exposure, upbringing, perception and the meaning we attach to
these play a major role in our definition of life.

We all do not have the same definition to concepts like commitment, trust, love,
loyalty, companionship, fun, spirituality etc.
Two partners could say they are committed to each other but still have conflicts
about commitment because they are all speaking different dialect; to one
commitment could mean giving attention to and seeking for ways to improve the
quality of the relationship, while to another it may mean fortifying the
relationships from external influence, yet to another commitment could mean
being there when one said they would and offering support in troubled times. It is
important to understand that none of these definitions are wrong, they are just

Our upbringing, the environment we grew up in and the significant events in our
lives shape our understanding of life and life’s concepts.
I once heard the story of a couple; the wife one day announced to her husband
she was tried of the marriage and was going to return home. The husband lost for
words couldn’t figure out what the problem was, he thought all was going on
well, they hadn’t fought in recent times, so he called some relatives to intervene.
After careful enquiry it turned out they both had different understand of what
love was, while he thought he was showing her love, she was feeling neglected,
unappreciated and unloved by him.

It is an assumption for a couple to think that they both have the same
interpretations to life and that because they use the same words it means the
same thing to the both of them.
Our definition of life, family and other concepts is birth out of our experience and
do not necessarily fit the dictionary definition: they are a product of who we have
become as a result of our unique journey. We are all philosophers, making
meaning of our everyday experiences.
Many couple’s relationship takes a downward spiral, having many avoidable
conflicts because they are unaware of their inner worlds.
Conflicts ensue many times because partners interpret the words they speak
based on their own world model and expect the listening partner to understand
without first seeking to understand that person’s model. Once again, the principle
of Steven Covey ‘seek first to understand and then be understood’ rings true.
Having quality conversation and asking the right questions would reveal a
person’s understanding and believes surrounding a concept and that couple
become better able to meet their partner’s needs, give allowance for short
comings, etc, as a result have a more fulfilling relationship.
Examples of these question are;
Growing up, how did you see trust displaced in your family of origin?
What does trust mean to you right now?
What can I do to show you how committed I am to this relationship?
At our couple’s event and mainly during personal sessions, we teach couples to
bridge the understanding gap by helping them have conversations that a tailored
towards revealing each other’s inner world and foster greater understanding.

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