Yesterday, I was listening to Tim Ferriss and Kevin Rose discuss the strategies they employ to help their relationships run smoothly. Kevin mentioned that he and his wife spent a couple of months in therapy to “work through [their] issues”. And Tim detailed the “systems” he and his girlfriend have established to prevent things from devolving into a “code red” scenario.
These include date night once a week, the careful use of language when speaking to each about contentious issues and a couples day once a quarter in which they can speak candidly about what they “think the other person is doing well, what they are paying attention to, what they like, what they think they are doing well as a partner and what they would like to see more of.” He compares it to dog training in which “you’re giving [your dog] a Scooby snack to push them in the right direction when they get something approximately right.” He and his girlfriend take notes so that if commitments are made or important points are brought up, they have something to refer to before the next “batching session” and they can see where “homework wasn’t done”.
It struck me that maybe there is something more fundamental about our romantic relationships that is tripping us up. We don’t have to schedule strategy chats with our friends or be careful not to use certain words around them. What is it about intimate relationships that is so inherently fragile that they need all these special rules and procedures? Couldn’t we think of a way to construct them so that they were more healthy, like friendships?