Learn How To Connect More Deeply With Your Partner By Using The Platinum Rule

By Posted in - Blog February 17th, 2015 2 Comments Loving in a New Way Dr Jessica Higgins

Many of us subscribe to the “golden rule”, which is to treat someone the way you would like to be treated. While this can be a good rule in general, as far as kindness, respect, and consideration for others, the rule doesn’t always work so well in matters of loving and relating.

Different Ways of Processing Emotion

To illustrate this point, I will use a little self-disclosure to provide an example. My husband usually prefers to process and work through his difficult emotions more internally. On face value it seems like a pretty neutral thing, we process our emotions differently. Typically, he will share with me once he has more clarity and understanding about his feelings. However, I have had to learn this through experience and time. In the beginning stages of our relationship, I wanted him to talk with me as he was going through something because this was my style of processing emotions.

Our Loving Gestures Don’t Always Help

A glaring example of this difference became evident in the spring of 2006. Our relationship was relatively young in that we had only been dating for a few months. We were still in our “romance phase,”when suddenly and tragically, his father dies. After the memorial and time with his family, we returned back to our schedules and life. Obviously, he was still grieving. I reached out to him in the ways I was familiar with, and in the ways that I would appreciate if I was grieving a major loss. However, he wasn’t interested in my initiations. He wanted time, understanding, and emotional space to grieve in his own way. Now, 9 years later, I appreciate that we have very different ways of grieving and processing difficult experiences. However, it wasn’t that simple for me back then.

At the time, I felt confused and unsure of how to show up for him. In my weaker moments, I felt rejected and disappointed. Since he wasn’t really available to relate and connect, I wondered if he still cared and was interested in our relationship. With a little work on my part, I dealt with my reactions and judgments, and I was able to not take his internal process personally. This was easier said than done at times, as I had to periodically remind myself that it wasn’t about me. In the end, I was able to stay centered in myself and offer love, space, and patience.

In the process of tolerating my discomfort (i.e. fear of rejection), I was able to see the power of loving someone in a way that they want to be loved. If I would have been too caught up in loving him in the way that I want to love him, he would not have felt my support. My attempts would have felt imposing and like pressure. My gestures of love would not have felt loving. It would have been like speaking a language he didn’t understand.

This experience taught me a lot about my comfort zones, expectations, and ability to offer support. In the end, I was able to work through my fears and assumptions into a deeper way of loving him. Overall, it was a great lesson in learning how to love him in the ways that he wanted to be loved during this difficult time.

The Platinum Rule

I do my best to practice the “Platinum Rule”, which is to treat (or love) someone in the way they would like to be treated (or loved). Rather than the “Golden Rule,” which is to treat (or love) someone in that way that you would want to be treated (or loved).

Seeing differences as possibilities rather than obstacles.

If your partner has a different way of approaching a situation, than it can be easy to have judgments…thinking their way is flawed, defective, or ineffective. While it may seem like the wrong or bad approach to you, it doesn’t mean their approach is wrong or bad for your partner. If you looked at the difference between you and your partner’s approach merely as a difference rather than as a problem, what would change? Would you look at the situation any differently? What would you learn about your partner or your relationship?

Approaching differences with curiosity.

Everyday, we are changing and growing, and it is easy to forget that so is our partner. If you look for the opportunity, you will have continual chances to learn about your partner’s growth. If you stay open to what you can learn, than you are less likely to judge your partner as wrong, make assumptions, and react negatively based on fear, interpretations, and expectations. If you are curious, you can learn why they do the things they do and how it serves them. Staying curious and open helps you have more compassion and understanding. You will also learn more about how they feel loved and supported.

Getting creative.

Dr Jessica Higgins Loving in a New Way

© Jeremy │Flicker

Once you have taken the time to be curious and understanding about your partner’s perspective, you will have more information about how to work with him/her, which will help you feel closer, stronger, and more connected. When you both participate in trying to understand, you will be more motivated to work towards solutions that are mutually beneficial. When there is the motivation to work together, the possibilities are unlimited. All you have to do is be creative in thinking, “how can we both feel good in this situation?” Or, “with what we have learned about each other, how can we both get our needs met?” “What solutions can we generate that meet both of our needs?” You might be surprised that the solutions can be fun, fulfilling, and uplifting, rather than just a compromise.

Using “The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman” as a helpful tool.

After the romance stage in relationship, many couples recognize that feeling loved and expressing love seems challenging. Chapman offers five categories to help us see different forms of expressing love. He calls these the 5 Love Languages, which are:

1. Words of Affirmation: Words of affirmation are verbal expressions of appreciation, encouragement, and compliments. Like,”You look great today.” “I am so grateful for you in my life.” “You did a great job.”

2. Quality Time: Quality time involves sharing your undivided attention and time together. Engaging in an activity, quality conversation, and deeper levels of sharing.

3. Gifts: Giving a gift may or may not involve spending money. It can be something made, found, or purchased. Gifts are a symbol or a physical representations of thought, care, and consideration.

4. Acts of Service: Acts of service are actions or doing something for your loved one, like making dinner, cleaning out the car, running an errand, etc.

5. Physical Touch: Physical touch is a gesture of physical affection. It can be a touch to the arm, a warm embrace, and sexual intimacy.

If you would like to read the entire book, click on this link to purchase The 5 Love Languages. You may also be able to find the book at your local library. The 5 Love Languages helps you understand the main ways people give and receive love, as well as identify your primary “love language,” which will most likely be different from your partners primary “love language.” Chapman has a religious (i.e. Christian) perspective which he emphasizes towards the end of the book, which you may or may not resonate with. If you don’t resonate, you can skip over that part.

An Invitation

If you would like to experiment with showing love to your partner in a way that is specific, unique, and meaningful to him/her, then take a moment and think about one small thing that they like or enjoy. See if you can make an effort to do or say the thing that they like today. If you get stumped, think about the ways that they tend to express love to you. What is your partner’s primary love language? For example, does your partner do things for you using “acts of service”? If so, try to think of some generous act you could do for them. Our tendency is to express love in the way that we would want to receive love, using the golden rule. However, this exercise is one of the platinum rule. ❤

I would love to hear how this goes for you. Please leave me a comment below or  contact me .

(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Melissa Smith - Reply

    February 23, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    love your platinum rule. Seems to be one of the hardest to learn.

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      March 3, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Thank you, Melissa. Yes, I too have to relearn this one over and over again.

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