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Use algebra to solve the equation of your coupling

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Where do you find yourself? I’m not asking where you are on the map. I’m wondering about the deep kind of philosophical finding yourself, your true nature or your truth. In good times or bad, we can grow.

Certainly, our coupling offers rich opportunities for growth. I’m saying this with some caution because relationships can be like that little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead: “And when she was good, she was very, very good and when she was bad, she was horrid.”

My operational theory suggests we need healthy individuals to create healthy couples. But I also believe that through healthy coupling we experience a dynamic tension that yields a strong individual. Think of an algebra equation with an equals sign in the middle, healthy couple on one side, healthy individual on the other. Now, solve for X.

Can I really believe both sides of this equation? I do, indeed. But I just read an article that starts from a strongly individualized focus.

Danielle Sepulveres, a freelance writer based in New York, says, “I don’t want to be the most important person in your life.” She lived for many years with the belief “that love should trump everything else in my life.”

In time this has shifted; she now places more attention on her own personal aspirations and interests, partner or not. “I’d like to be a team that supports each other in their individual pursuits without resentment.” Her pursuit of personal goals would come before shared interest.

One way to solve for X would be to ask if you are an extrovert or an introvert. Don’t assume the popular definition of a loud, attention seeker versus a quiet, shy type. With these personality types, Carl Jung was describing how we learn and how we are energized.

Energized by the crowd, we notice the extroverts’ heightened engagement. They tend to learn in the exchange of ideas, figuring out what they are thinking as they feed off of dialogue.

The introvert is quite the opposite, not in any kind of negative way — even though our cult of personality seems to suggest this. Complete in his or her own thoughts, the introvert suffers in the hustle of superficial party talk. They will take time to reflect so their thinking is clear as they move into action.

Introverts get defined as reserved, but they are simply considering their own thoughts even as the extrovert is bouncing theirs off the people and walls around them.

So how does your type affect your coupling? Or how do you find yourself in your coupling? I would suggest each could allow and even support the other in their specific way of being, while challenging oneself to go beyond the constrictions of your type.

At my house that means allowing my wife her quiet time while I challenge myself to appreciate the quiet. The vice versa side suggests that she allow for my externalized disorganization while joining me in a little unplanned spontaneity.

You may find yourself in your pursuits, in your relationship or in a quiet moment by the river. Whichever it is, bring your truth to bear on your coupling.

Bruce Conn is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and works with individuals and couples. Contact him at or call 478-742-1464.