Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Agree to Disagree

One of the things that I've found is a huge contributor to the downturn in the "Happiness & Success" factors in marriage are problems with yourself; especially when solutions cannot be found to ongoing issues between you and your partner. I, like many other people, have time and time again "HAD TO BE RIGHT!".. and in the end it's really done nothing to help the situation.

My husband is stubborn, and like anyone else enjoys the sound of his own voice. I of course try to be a little more diplomatic and tend to remain calm... that is.. to a certain extent. I've found that there is nothing worse then the shouting that follows. It's a battle of wills, an outcry in regards to who's right and who's wrong, yet in the end, we're arguing over the most ridiculous things in the world.

It is unrealistic to think that you and your spouse will always find a solution or compromise that you both find acceptable; there's just no way I can see that happening on a regular basis... But believe it or not, this doesn’t have to create problems in your relationship. You don’t need to have a consensus on everything. In fact, you can agree to disagree peacefully; I'm learning this the hard way.

In order to agree to disagree and to have this agreement feel acceptable, usually both spouses must feel heard. I tend to leave the room when things start getting tense, write down my thoughts, and then instead of reading them aloud, I store them away.. My husband and I usually sit down and talk about the "issue" and each come to a conclusion...

But listen, it's not ALWAYS that easy.. sometimes you have to know what your spouse thinks and vice versa. You really have to make an effort to acknowledge your spouse’s point of view. You have to be respectful, and this is what I tend to really screw up on! You don’t have to see eye-to-eye, but you have to tell your spouse that from his or her perspective, you can understand why s/he feels the way s/he does. One of the best ways to reach this sort of understanding is through active listening.

When couples practice this skill, they often have great difficulty at first. They want to stop their spouses and say, “Hey! You were wrong about that,” or “I can’t believe you see it that way!” or “If I just repeat back what you’re saying you’ll think I’m agreeing with you when nothing could be further from the truth.” However, when they force themselves to quiet their minds and listen and reflect back, their spouses feel heard. And when people feel heard, they don’t feel the need to keep repeating themselves, or attacking their partner.

It’s a breath of fresh air, trust me on this - your marriage will last longer if you practice this!

Plus, the listener is comforted by the fact that soon will be his or her time to have the floor. Even if this seems awkward to you, try it. You may be surprised how much you like it. The next time you find yourselves falling head-first into your relationship abyss, grab your lifeline.

Agree to do active listening!

On a side Note: A girlfriend of mine suggested something the other day, "Next time you're fighting or having an argument, hold your husband's hand." I can honestly say that we just stopped shouting at each other the point our hands came together. It was so hard to scream or even try to be argumentative, as immediately each of our hands were tied in a sense of intimacy... it was a bit of a shock - and it worked!


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