The Quality Worlds of a Happy Relationship

In a happy, satisfying relationship, the two people involved appear in each other’s “quality worlds.” What’s a quality world? According to choice theory, it’s our mind’s representation of the world we’d most like to live in. So, it‘s filled with pictures of the people and things we care most about, as well as our systems of belief.

This article is one in a series  on relationships.
You can find the first article in the series here.

“Get Acquainted with each other’s Quality World” is one of the lessons in Dr. William and Carleen Glasser’s book, Eight Lessons for a Happier Marriage. This lesson is helpful for marriage, and other relationships too, because according to the Glassers, even a small picture in your quality world can have a huge impact on an important relationship.

Let’s revisit Kristen and Sherri. In Kristen’s quality world, she is a sophisticate: comfortable in the urban atmosphere and current scene, adventurous, an “up-and-comer.” The people she admires in her quality world fit those pictures.

Sherri’s quality world is defined just as precisely, but with very different pictures. She sees herself as an animal-healer, dog-whisperer, comforting both animals and the humans who care deeply about them. The people she admires in her quality world fit that view.

What actions might result? The situation won’t work very well for Sherri if Kristen chooses to satisfy pictures in her quality world by bringing home every new acquaintance to party till dawn. Likewise, it won’t work too well for Kristen if Sherri decides that the way to satisfy her quality world pictures is to rescue every abandoned cat in the neighbourhood and give them a loving home in their new apartment!

When two people have incompatible pictures in their quality worlds, some compromise is necessary if they are to have a satisfying—or even a workable—relationship. For the sake of their friendship, it’s important that Kristen and Sherri keep at least a small picture of each other in their quality worlds. They can choose to do that, or not.

Now, Kristen and Sherri do want this friendship to work. They both recognize that they won’t satisfy all their quality world pictures through each other. Even in marriage, it’s important to realize that it’s not your spouse’s responsibility to satisfy all of the hopes, dreams and aspirations pictured in your quality world! (Or vice versa…)

One way to bring each other into their quality worlds is to focus on positives rather than negatives. Kristen, rather than perceiving Sherri as timid and hesitant to seize opportunities, can choose to focus on other qualities; Sherri is down-to-earth, loyal, kind-hearted, and practical.

Likewise, Sherri, rather than perceiving Kristen as extravagant and superficial, can choose to view her as a link to an exciting and otherwise inaccessible world. This friendship has the potential to enrich the lives of both girls if they work with their differences rather than attempt to control each other.

Do you think that getting acquainted with the quality world of someone you care about would have a positive influence on that relationship?

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