At some point in a relationship, we come to believe that we know everything there is to know about our partner.
We know the negative. The slow curl of her lip as as she listens to her mother. That...wait for it...wait for it...there it is! That creeping whine in his voice when he sees a faint scratch in his car. Or the joke they'll tell about that time at work, etc. etc....for the 100th time . Or the way he withdraws in a fight. Or the subtle - but not to you! - manner she indicates you had better not touch her.
We know the positive, too. How she is so easily amused by Calvin & Hobbes cartoons, especially the one about the dog crowing to his dog friend that he's going to the vet "to get tutored." Or the way he will always clean the dishes even though you told him to leave them for the morning. Or the sweet way she looks when talking about a certain memory or a person.
Many of us do come to understand this person we share our lives with in a deep, unspoken way. There is something safe and comforting about this knowing of another person. It's connection and strength and intimacy on an almost spiritual level.
The problem arises when we assume that's all there is. We run into the danger of losing our curiosity about our partners. We humans are complex and our brains are still a huge and vast mystery. We don't always know what moves us or makes us do what we do or why we think what we think.
I have lived with someone for nearly 40 years (yes, that's almost as old as Elvis) , and you might think I'd be comatose with boredom by now. (Or--is it possible?-my partner might be!) But, the reality for me is that sometimes this person I live with surprises me by saying or doing something so completely out of character. And, when that happens, I am humbled by my unknowing, grateful that I can still be surprised. And I become, once again, curious about this sometimes-stranger I live with.
So, next time you think you "know" your partner, test your assumptions. Get curious. Ask a question. Balance your knowing ("I know") with curiosity and mystery ("I don't know").