Chris WrightChris Wright is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He sees clients in the Washington, D.C. area and has telephone clients from all over the world. He also has over 35 years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in human and organizational development across the U.S. and Canada. Chris was founder and director of the Human Relations Institute in Houston, Texas. He was also the Director of PAIRS International -- training psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in couple’s skills programs. As an innovator in the field, he has developed a unique blend of tools that increase the effectiveness in relationships -- for couples and in the workplace. He has Masters Degrees from the University of Arizona and Antioch University in Los Angeles.
Host: If couples are unhappy, could it be that they are just incompatible?
Chris Wright: For couples that are unhappy it could be, yes, they could be that they are incompatible maybe, no, they are not incompatible. I mean, here is the thing, we typically married somebody, we are typically attracted to somebody who is different from us, who has a different personality for us, completely different from us and there is an advantage to that, there are positives to that, I mean we are drawn to somebody who complements us.
Areas where I am not as strong, you are strong in those areas and that melts in to me, it fortifies me, it strengthens me. I love that about you, it balances us both. So, being with someone who is different tends to be something we are drawn to, it tends to fill this out, make it more whole together, more interesting together but the downside is, is because here in the different world, with different needs and different pressures and now I am thankful that we know the enneagram so we can see what those needs are, what those pressures are.
But most people don t know those pressures, don t recognize the differences and so as a result, you are not attuning the times to my needs, you are not getting what I am needing and you resisting what I am trying to tell you. So, it creates all sorts of tensions and those tensions can come up and they can start to create distance in the relationship.
If we have these awarenesses, if we have these frameworks and these tools so when the tensions come up we work through them together as a team, we would say, Fine. We will work through everything, we are compatible. We are different but we are compatible. If we do not have those tools, if we do not have safe ways to resolve in the pressures, those tensions that come up that s when we say, We are incompatible, we can t make it work. I am reminded of that series, a television series we talked about earlier called Wife Swap , the second series called Trading Spouses. Remember where they take two families and they take the wives and they trade families. One wife goes to one family the other wife goes the other family for two weeks and of course, they tend to put them with families that are completely different to threaten all the needs of the wife.
So, the wife who is a very much, let us say the example we use a Perfectionist , is put in a family where things are really loose, where things are really disorganized, where there s not a sense of boundaries or discipline and the person goes nuts. I mean, by the third or fourth night in, she is in her bedroom crying, I want to go home. I can t stand it here. So, when people are exposed to differences, to incompatibilities it brings up a tremendous amount of tensions from that.
At the end of that series, they bring the two kept couples together and the wives meet each other for the very first time sitting across to each other and most of those interactions are each blaming the other. I was just at your family. I can t believe you live like that. It was just horrible experience. Your kids are really bad. They are just making each other wrong but some of the couples, actually, it doesn t become something that overwhelms them. It expands them.
By being with someone different, being in environment that was incompatible, they actually stepped out of their frame and expanded to incorporate a whole new way of seeing things that was healthy for them, that was expansive in a way that was good for them to get, that the way they had been in their narrow, little world was way too narrow, wasn t healthy, wasn t as wholesome. So, they actually love the experience of two weeks in other family, feeling nourished from it, feeling, Wow! I really got a lived out of it. That was great. It produced incredible changes in the way that they now interact with their kids.
That is the possibility in every one of relationship. People say you can t get man to change, you can t get this person to change and now you can when you are attacking them on the surface, but when you open up people s hearts, when you make the process safe, emotionally safe for them to expand in and incorporate what it is like in your world, that creates a broader experience of themselves, a healthier response to life. So, even though you may start off incompatible in some ways over years with disorientation with these tools, you actually can change where you both grow as a result and find yourself coming in balance or even though you are still different, you are much holistic, much more fulfilled, much healthier as a person as a result.