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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Stagnaro

The Big Bang Theory and Couples therapy

If you've ever seen The Big Bang theory, you're familiar with the quirky, neurodivergent genius, Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon thrives on structure, routine, and ritual, but also struggles with relationships and intimacy. To manage his close relationships, he creates elaborate,

legally binding contracts, beginning with his roommate agreement with Leonard and later when he finds a girlfriend, a relationship agreement. These terms vary from practical, like a date night schedule or reasons to terminate the relationship, to absurd -- mandating Amy to laugh at Sheldon's jokes whether she finds them humours or not... or protocols for who's body gets eaten first in a zombie apocalypse.

In Season 10, episode 13, Sheldon's recently married friends Leonard and Penny hit a rut in their relationship and begin to realise that there is a real logic to having.a relationship agreement and ask Sheldon to draft one for them, addressing their major conflicts in a straightforward way.

This agreement rescues the couple from the rut, immediately resolving the conflicts.

Sheldon's approach is similar to the successful techniques used by renowned couples therapist John Gottman. Many couples often base their compatibility on romance, sex, or emotional connection, only to discover later on that they have unexplored conflicts in crucial areas that were never addressed before making a commitment.

While Gottman doesn't advise a legally binding relationship agreement, he advises that strong couples openly, explicitly discuss hot button issues early. In this excellent book, Eight Dates, Gottman suggests ways to design 8 date nights to engage in the topics that are most likely to divide couples:

  • What does it mean to be in a partnership?

  • How do we navigate conflict as a couple?

  • What are our ideals and boundaries for our sex life?

  • What are our financial values and goals?

  • What are our values about family, children, in-laws?

  • What are our values around shared time together, recreation, vacation, downtime, etc?

  • What are our beliefs about religion, spirituality and is it important that my partner and children share this with me?

  • What are my dreams for the future, (locations, property, ambition, career)?

Some of these may seem obvious, and some of these may not. We simply can't know the values and ambitions of the person we're with without having explicit conversations. "Do you expect the division of household labor to be related to financial contributions?" "Do you believe partners should have complete financial transparency with each other or will you have a separate bank account?" "When our parents age, do you expect them to live with us, or in an assisted living facility?" etc,.

Even if you're already married and you realize you haven't had these conversations or you're unearthing conflicts in some key areas, you can compromise and learn to adapt. While some of these things are definitely inflexible, or may even be a part of your identity, through couples therapy, a happy medium can often be reached to help the relationship function despite differences in viewpoint. If this is you, I can help you navigate these challenges! head back to the contact page to book a free consultation today.

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