Like a box of chocolates, variations of intelligence come in all shapes and sizes. The usual suspects include cognitive measures (IQ), social intelligence (SQ), and emotional intelligence (EI). The manner in which these and other intelligences interface between two intimate partners will determine, at least in part, their fate as a couple. The bad news is that even optimal levels of IQ, SQ and EI, respectively, might not be sufficient for conflict resolution and may actually detract from an intimate connection. For example, in an attempt to win an argument, being too smart (invoking metaphors, cliches, hypotheticals), is typically received as condescending and off-putting. Likewise, interpersonal savvy and worldliness (SQ) might be outwardly attractive, but, of limited value in strenghtening the intimacy bond. Finally, empathy and sensitivity to others are assets in the conflict arena, but, other traits, e.g. attitude, and a limited repertoire of interventions can diminish the otherwise positive impact of EI.
The good news is that the survival of couples in conflict or crisis is not dependent on the level of the aforementioned intelligences, but, is instead dependent upon the “mix of the intelligences,” of both partners, in addition to a learning mindset and a range of skill sets I refer to as “couple intelligence (CQ).
The Components of CQ
1.The mutual learning mindset is the counterpoint to the “blame game” and other ego-based tactics.
2. A dual focus requires attention to oneself and the needs, wishes and desires of a partner—simultaneously.
3. A give-receive balance negates the possibility of the receiver feeling obligated and controlled by the other’s perpetual selflessness.
4. No-fault conflict is the recognition that most, if not all conflicts, are co-created and that both partners share the responsibiity for their resolution.
5. Couplethink is the antidote to “me-think” (narcissism) and an asset to effective decision making and day-to-day harmony.
6. Humility is the essential character trait that underscores the no-conflict idea and couplethink.
7. The utilization of emotions as tools of engagement expands the range of interventions when individual differences collide. For example, the use of “anger” provides an invaluable source of information a beloved partner might not otherwise have. On the positive emotional side, “apologies” are most helpful when accompanied by an explanation and learning.
8. When hidden forces are discovered their disastrous impact can be neutralized. “We are stuck…something we are not aware of is hurting us,” is an important beginning.
9. When past influences (child and adult) are pinpointed and reconciled, their toxic impact is dissipated. “I am not your mother” serves only to heighten tension and in worse case scenarios cause irreparable schisms.
10. Elasticity refers to the capacity of each partner to “shift gears” in the context of at least three aspects of relate-ability:
(a) an imbalance of power.
(b) the renegotiation of “space.
(c) the capacity to shift roles, particularly during, Recovery, the later stage of the love cycle.
11. Self-awareness that includes acts of self-disclosure, the sharing of “delicate” thoughts and feelings.
12. Other-awareness that includes sensitive confrontation and and empathic responsiveness.
CQ and CCQ (combined partner intelligence) is measured by the Relate-ability Scale in the appendix section of “Return to Harmony….”.