"Shape Mates" - Impromptu Couples Therapy

Sunday, July 23, 2023

NOTE: This blog includes references to the five Shapes of PsychoGeometrics. Each Shape represents a specific communication style.

Box - Logical, Factual, and Non-Emotional

Triangle - Bottom-Line and to the Point

Rectangle - The Evolving State of Change (a transitional communication style during periods of change and growth).

Circle - Caring, Compassionate, and Inclusive

Squiggle - Creative and High-Energy


Cecil and my husband, Marty, both went to NC State University in Raleigh and first met right out of college when both were working for CP&L, later becoming Progress Energy, then Duke Power. Both are engineers who worked at the South Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant in Southport, NC and scuba-dived together, long before I ever entered the picture.

Recently, Marty and Cecil reconnected which resulted in Cecil coming over for a visit just two days later. I was looking forward to hearing their stories, especially about finding ship wrecks along the ocean floor on their diving trips. What I wasn't expecting is that after a brief "meet and greet," Cecil sat down, looked right at me, and asked, "So, what's it like being married to an engineer?"

It definitely caught me off-guard and given that I had just met Cecil, I wasn't exactly sure how to respond. One thing I know for sure is that Marty and most engineers have a lot of BOX in their communication style, which is a logical, linear Shape that communicates in facts. Someone with a dominant Box Shape also has a reliable "BS" meter.

Pausing and looking at Marty, then back at Cecil, I paused, knowing he nor Marty would appreciate a flippant reply. 

Drawing a deep breath and taking longer than usual to formulate my words, I said, "Well, as I am sure your wife knows, an engineer brings a calming effect to a relationship. Marty takes time to think before he speaks, he is slow to anger and sometimes you would never know he's under stress or upset about something. He's consistent, has a tremendous work ethic, fair, follows the rules, and I can always count on him to do what he says he will do. So, to answer your question, Cecil, it's wonderful!"

I am the first to admit, my tone was serious at the beginning but became a little playful and possibly a bit sarcastic toward the end, and we all laughed. 

"Of course, he can be stubborn, rigid, and so value-driven, that it sometimes annoys me," I continued. "We are opposites. Let me give you a great example. We both drive to the same place often. He always takes the main road lined with store-fronts and a couple of stoplights along the way, and I take the shady, two-lane road, decorated with hanging moss from the surrounding big and beautiful oak trees, rounding a curve where you have the full view of the intracoastal waterway. Marty's route is three minutes shorter than my scenic one. Before meeting me, the Box in him never considered going a longer way for an aesthetically pleasing drive. Before I met him, choosing a boring, "ugly" route, even if three minutes faster, was something I would never do when I could take Airlie Road instead."

More laughter. Cecil then opened up, sharing what his wife would say about being married to an engineer, and it was clear among the three of us that none of us are immune to tension and conflict in a relationship.

Next it was Marty's turn to share what it's like to be married to someone who evaluates behavior and recommends modifications for stronger relationships, teams, and communication. As it often is in relationships, what attracts you can also irritate you. It is my Squiggle creative, free-spirit and outward zest for life that Marty loves about me. However, it is also my "all-over-the-place" ideas and inconsistent schedule that drives him crazy. 

It was "Shape Mate" therapy for all of us. Something about just being able to say what we love and don't love about one another is so refreshingly real and relatable. Instead of making us tense, we can laugh at our stories about the ups and downs of a relationship. Perhaps if we did this more, we would not have unrealistic expectations of what a loving and committed relationship looks like.  

Years ago, I heard a marriage counselor say, "Love is not always a feeling, it's a commitment." That stuck with me, especially as someone who is naturally driven by my emotions (feelings), then Triangle results. On the other hand, Marty is someone who is naturally driven by commitment. I am convinced that a healthy relationship requires both. 

If Marty is riding in the car with me, I will take the faster route, and when I am riding with him, he will take the scenic route. This is what we call Shape Flexing to show our love and commitment to one another. Obviously this is just one "little" example, but "little" is BIG, and there's a cumulative value of doing the little things well consistently over time!

Consider your Shape and the Shape of your partner. What are the things that attract you to one another that also annoy you about each other?

For more about "Shape Mates," contact me at susanhite@psychogeometrics.com

I will send you some more information about the various combination of Shapes in relationships and how to Shape Flex effectively in order to love more and annoy less! We also have "Shape Mates" couple sessions and group discussions led by certified Shape Counselors.

Remember, love is not always a feeling, but it is a commitment. Knowledge + Skill + Desire + Consistency are four "little" things that will make a BIG difference in your loving and committed relationship!