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  • Erika Bugbee, M.A.

Why Some Couples Get Closer Over Time and others Get More Strained: Understanding Separate Realities

Updated: Sep 1

Back in the 90’s when I first started working at my family business, my grandparents handled all the shipping for our company.


If you’re familiar with the early works of my dad, Dr. George Pransky, before there were digital downloads, there were cassette tapes.


His tapes were slowly and carefully wrapped and delivered on-foot to the post office by my 70-year-old grandparents, Emily and Glen.


Their personalities were very different – Emily was very polite and social, Glen was gruff, rarely talked, and generally kept to himself.


But they worked together all week, went to the library together every Tuesday. They watched Wheel of Fortune together every night.


They had true companionship.


No matter how much two people have in common, the more time they spend together, the more their differences come out.


We all live by our own ideas, customs, and rules of life and relationships.


People live in their own unique world view created by their one-of-kind experience of life that nobody else has. We each live in our own separate realities.


Our outlook, our truths, our unique cocktail of thought systems through which we view the world creates our own little private planet.


I’m suggesting in today’s video how easy it is to forget that our truths about life in certain ways will inevitably differ from our partner’s truths about life.


Our truth is not the only truth. Our truth is not THE truth. Yet our truth always looks like the real one. The RIGHT one.


That simple misunderstanding -- that our reality isn't the only one, or necessarily the right one -- creates massive frustration, relationship–doubt, impatience, and discouragement.


Thought convinces us that we’re right and everyone else is wrong.


Developing even the tiniest amount of humility and respect for the fact of separate realities in a relationship within a person opens up the potential for an endless supply of hope, wisdom, and relationship faith.


Understanding the fact of separate realities creates what I think of as ‘communication agility’ – a combination of neutrality, grace, and persistence that allows us to get along with difficult people in other areas of our lives.


My job is to help couples, parents, business partners, and family members, and young adults, tap into that understanding, which everyone has in some area of their lives, and intentionally use it for their romantic relationship.


That's what I had to do myself in the example I use in my video today.


As a teenager, watching Emily and Glen every day wrapping and shipping tapes together, I thought they were adorable. I loved that they went to the library every Tuesday. He was her person, and she was his.


Who doesn’t want that kind of companionship?


Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a sibling, a kid, or a friend, everyone wants closeness and connection with someone in their lives. We want reassurance of that connection.


We all have the ability to very intentionally move any relationship in that direction.


That’s the focus of today’s video.


To watch, click below.






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