How can you increase your knowledge of your partner's inner world?
The answer is:
through improved channels of communication.
Throughout the course of your relationship, your partner has given you thousands of hours of testimony about his or her thoughts and feelings and wishes, but only a fraction of this information ever registered. In order to deepen your understanding of your partner's subjective reality, you need to train yourself to communicate more effectively.
To do this, it helps to know something about semantics: even though you and your partner speak the same language, each of you dwells in a different world of private meanings. Growing up in different families with different life experiences has given you private meanings.
As an example, let's look at the invitation, "Let's play tennis." This are simple words and they might mean entirely two different things to each partner.
In Family A, the full unspoken definition of this phrase is:
"Let's grab any old racket that happens to be lying around, walk to the local park, and lob the ball back and forth across the net until someone want to quit. Rules are secondary; it's the exercise that counts."
In Family B, however, "Let's play tennis" has quite a different meaning. It means:
"Let's reserve an indoor court at the private club, get out our two hundred dollar rackets, and then play tough, competitive tennis until one player is clearly the winner."
Mark, raised in Family A is going to be taken aback by the aggressiveness and determination that his wife, Susan, raised in Family B, brings to the game.
In each marriage or partnership, clear communication, deep listening, validation and feedback are key to affirming the internal logic that each of you bring to the relationship.
Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love you Want.