Living together with your significant other is a grand thing. There is the joy of being with the one you love, and the adventure of figuring out how to cohabitate. But as with any new adventure, there are inevitably pitfalls. Never fear, as there is someone out there ready to help you and your sweetie live happily together.
We spoke with cognitive hypnotherapist and author Trevor Silvester, whose new book Lovebirds: How to Live with the One You Love, was recently published by Coronet Books in the UK and Penguin in the US (available here). In Lovebirds, Silvester endeavors to help couples live together harmoniously by understanding their personality type (aka their lovebird) and that of their partner. The book posits that by understanding who you and your partner are as individuals, you can become stronger as a couple.
Find out what kind of lovebird you are here, and check out our interview with Trevor to learn all about his new book.
YourTango: Your last three books were about cognitive hypnotherapy. What then inspired you to create a dating profile concept around birds?
Trevor Silvester: Well, it had been in my mind for a long time because of my work as a couples coach, but I hadn't managed to interest any publishers in the concept. Mind you, originally I was going to use types of aliens, like Ewoks and Vulcans, so maybe they had a point. When Hodder approached me and asked if I'd be interested in writing books for a wider audience, this theme quickly came to the surface, but they wanted something a bit more appealing, so I put my thinking cap on and took the dogs for a walk. This is actually how it happened. I spotted a robin singing in a tree, with a dove on a nearby branch. And it struck me that we just take it for granted that robins only get together with other robins. I suddenly had the ridiculous thought that the robin might really fancy the dove, and was trying to woo it, but that the dove only responds to a cuddle, so doesn’t recognise the robin's attraction to it. The thought made me smile, and I realised I had a way of communicating a serious message in a light hearted way.
YT: What do you think are some of the biggest obstacles people face when they begin to live with the one they love?
TS: The first obstacle is the mistake we make in thinking that we all think the same way, so when people do things differently to us we think they're doing it wrong, or doing it to annoy us. Everybody has reasons for doing what they're doing, they're just not your reasons. The second obstacle is that we're taught to treat others how we'd like others to treat us. When it comes to relationships this is wrong in one very important way: everyone knows they're loved through their partner acting in particular ways, and those ways are the way you're likely to show them you love them. That means I might be putting a huge effort into showing my wife I love her my way, and because it's not herway she's completely oblivious. And vice versa. The secret is to find out how your partner can tell you love them, and do more of that.
YT: How do you see Lovebirds making an impact on modern relationships?
TS: I'd like people to use the principles in Lovebirds to be able to laugh about things they currently shout about. Hopefully by giving couples a language to describe the differences between them that are causing discord, in a way that stops those differences becoming labelled negatively, they'll be able to learn to live with the challenges. By depersonalising the problems difference cause they can become something to negotiate, to work around, and even use to strengthen the relationship, instead of tearing it apart.
YT: What is the best love advice you would give to a couple having difficulties with cohabitating?
TS: Firstly, keep your relationship out of the argument. Don't make whether you're going to stay together a bargaining chip to help you win the argument or gain power. Assume you're a lifetime commitment, and discuss what is actually bugging you. Stay kind to each other. Remember to continue to do the things you did when you first met that attracted you in the first place. Remember to appreciate what the other person does, and let them know. And buy my book, and make what it teaches you about your and your partner the cornerstone of a fresh way of relating.
YT: I took your quiz and I'm a swan, which you describe as a 'feeling' bird. Which birds are most compatible with feeling birds?
TS: That's a great question. Opposites attract and then drive each other mad, so the most compatible is another Swan, or the other feeling bird, the Dove. But the book isn't about choosing based on compatibility, it's about trusting the attraction that brought you together in the first place, and then using your understanding of the differences (or similarities) to make the relationship work. Living with someone different to you can create some real challenges, but can also make your life a lot richer. Sticking with someone who is like you can lead to weak spots in your relationship skill set, and also lead to a bit of stagnancy. So I don't advise using the book to find a mate who's compatible. I'd rather you met someone who makes your heart race, and then use the book to make it possible to live with them, however different to you they may be.
YT: What kind of birds are you and your wife, Rebecca?
TS: My wife is the same as you, a Swan, and I'm an Owl. It's a good example of what I was saying just now. We're as different as you can get. Rebecca is a feeling bird who is incredibly attuned to her comfort and who shows she loves me by looking after me. As an Owl, I'm quite oblivious to comfort, and don't really notice my surroundings much. I know that I'd be happy living in a pig sty because I've been told on a number of occasions, starting with my mother. I show my love by telling Rebecca how I feel about her, and paying a lot of compliments. To her, talk is cheap, where's her cup of tea? So we've learned to give each other what the other values most, and it works incredibly well. Also, with me being a sky bird and Rebecca a ground bird, probably the difference that causes more problems than any, we've used her organisational strengths, and my creativity, to build a successful business training Cognitive Hypnotherapists over the last 14 years. Rebecca says I'm the inspiration and she's the perspiration, and she's pretty much right. So we've turned a challenging part of our characters into something that makes us stronger – but it isn't easy. Her rules sometimes drive me mad, as does how oblivious I am to the obvious for her. We probably use the Lovebirds knowledge most days. Mainly to keep me alive.