I really like this summary by Malcolm Gladwell about Dr. John Gottman’s work on couples. Gottman, like previous marital therapists asks the question, “How did you two meet?” This seemingly simple question reveals more than you might think about the patterns and dynamics of your relationship.

In Watzlawick, Beavin, and Jackson’s 1967 book Pragmatics of Human Communication, a similar question is asked: “How of all the millions of people in the world, did the two of you get together?” These types of questions help the therapist get an x-ray of a relationship by revealing how each partner tells the story of the relationship – What is the relationship narrative? What are the most poignant themes from that narrative? What patterns played out right from the very beginning? What role did each partner play in their getting together? Does each partner tell a different story? Do they agree on the main plot points?

The best way to grow as a person and/or as a couple is to understand yourself and your partner from a different angle or perspective. The couples’ therapist can act as a mirror to the couple, helping them see the dynamics of their relationship. Your narrative about how you met gives you many hints about how you see yourself and your partner in the relationship.

If you are interested in better understanding your relationship, there are two options. One option is couples counseling, and the other is individual therapy with a focus on your relationship. Therapists can help you see things you can’t see about yourselves, which results in new perspectives and an increased sense of groundedness and clarity.