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How Compatible Are You and Your Partner?
by Kim Olver, MS, LPC, NCC
Editor's Note from Elizabeth Wolfson: This article discusses five basic needs of choice that each person experiences in life and in their intimate relationships suggesting that comparing these needs with those of your partner is a good indicator of compatibility. Suggestions are provided for learning how to become more compatible with your partner.
What are the things you argue about? Where are the disagreements? The small resentments? Where do you have to give in to get along?
Do you argue over money? Are you fighting over sex? Do you have different ideas about how much time you should spend together and apart? Do you squabble over extended family and friends? Is one of you daring and reckless, while the other wants to play things safe? Does one of you want to be right all the time? Does one of you want to always be in control? Do you disagree about the fun activities in your life?
Couples may have conflict over many areas but do you know there is a simple explanation for the conflict? When looking for a life partner, it is a good idea to take a close look at your "Need Strength Profile", based on Dr. William Glasser's work in the area of Choice Theory. This simple assessment will determine where you and your partner are in terms of the five basic needs and help you determine what areas are compatible and what areas should generate discussion and possible compromise and negotiation.
There is a free assessment at www.therelationshipcenter.biz on the "Free Stuff" page that will provide a rudimentary understanding of where you are with regard to the five basic human needs of Choice Theory---love & belong, survival, power, freedom and fun. If you are seeking compatibility in a relationship, you and your partner can both take this assessment and then discuss your results based on the rest of this article.
The first need is called love & belonging. It is the need that determines how much connection you require with others. Generally speaking, relationships work best when you have equivalent strengths of the love & belonging need. This is the need that will help you determine as a couple how much time you spend together and how much time is needed apart. Loving sex and romance is another aspect of this need, as are extended family and friends.
The second of the five basic needs is survival. This is so much more than just the need to physically survive, although that is part of it. It is also the psychological need to feel safe and secure. Areas of potential conflict around this need involve the ability to adapt to change, how you spend and save money, preparations one makes for safety, spontaneity, among other things.
The third of the human needs is power, which can be a difficult need to understand because power generally has a negative connotation associated with it. When people hear "power" they often think of one person exerting their power over another person. While this is one way, albeit not the best way, to meet one's power need, there are two other ways which are more responsible and palatable.
There are three ways to meet one's need for power---power over others, power with others and power within ourselves. Power over others is not a responsible way to meet one's power need because it interferes with the other person getting his or her needs met. There are plenty of people who use power over others but I am advocating for the other two ways when seeking compatibility in relationships.
When people have a high need for power, they are born driven to get this need met. They don't know how to get it met; they just know they must find power. Often, you can observe in small children the tendency to power over others. Then, hopefully, life teaches children the other two ways to seek power.
When you look for "power with" others, it means that you are able to work cohesively with a group of people to advance toward a common goal. Many winning sports teams display this "power with" concept, as well as effective work teams and even fully functioning families. "Power with" others can be a very satisfying way of meeting one's power needs.
The final way to meet one's need for power is "power within" oneself. This is generally seen as a need for pride or competence. Those with a high power need who meet it through power within methods like to always do their best. They may seem to be perfectionistic but producing their best is very need satisfying to them.
In relationships, this power need accounts for workaholism, people who always need to control everything around them and a low degree of tolerance for imperfection in others. The power need has a big influence in interpersonal relationships.
The fourth need to discuss is the need for freedom. People with a high need for freedom are independent and like to do things their own way. High freedom need people generally don't like rules---particularly ones that don't make sense. They also value their time alone. They like to do what they want, when they want.
There is usually an inverse relationship between the love & belonging and the freedom needs. When a person has a high need for love & belonging, he or she typically has a lower need for freedom and vice versa. Of course, there are exceptions but typically there is an opposite relationship between the two.
The last of Choice Theory's basic human needs is fun. Fun seems pretty straightforward but there are some subtleties to it that are necessary to understand. There are basically three kinds of fun. There is the loud, energetic kind of fun that people might get from physical activity and parties, for example. There is the quiet, relaxing kind of fun that might be enjoyed by fishing, lying in a hammock on a warm summer's day or reading for pleasure. Then there is learning as fun.
Now, I'm not talking about when you learned algebra! For most of us that wasn't fun but I am talking about learning something you are interested in that has useful application for you. For me, the best example is when I learned how to downhill ski and made it the first time down the slope without falling and getting snow down my jacket, up my pant legs and various other places! It is the sheer joy of learning something that interests you. Everyone has various ways of meeting their fun needs and it is these differences that can drastically affect your satisfaction in your relationship.
It is not always true that in order for your relationship to succeed, you must have equal or almost equal need strengths in all five needs. For some needs, it is best when one of you is high and one of you is low in that need.
There is so much to learn about improving the significant relationships in our lives. Sign up for our free teleconference, Relationships, The Choice Theory Way. This teleconference is a live conference and is held the second Tuesday of every month. When you sign up you will receive my free article, Top Ten Things of What to Do and What Not to Do in Relationships. Sign up today and start improving the important relationships in your life.
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About the Author
Kim Olver, MS, LPC, NCC, is a life, relationship and executive coach. Her mission is to help people get along better with the important people in their lives. She teaches people how to live from the inside out by empowering them to focus on the things they can change. She in an internationally recognized speaker, having worked in Australia and the continent of Africa, as well as all over the United States. She has consulted with the NBA and other major league player development specialists. She is the author of Leveraging Diversity at Work and the forthcoming book, Relationship Empowerment. She co-authored a book with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hansen and Byron Katie, entitled 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. She works with individuals, couples, parents, social service agencies, schools, corporations and the military--anyone who will benefit from gaining more effective control over their lives. She has consulted on relationships, parenting, self-development, training, leadership development, diversity, treatment programs and management styles.
Get your copy of Kim Oliver's book, Secrets of Happy Couples.