We are living in a new age in this country.
People used to discuss their political differences openly. Now, these differences have become highly emotional. Friends and family members have become divided and relationships have broken over differences.
How does this happen?
In the last month I have received calls from three clients over broken relationships related to innocent statements that were interpreted as insulting. The breaks occurred because in the face of reaction from the recipient of the remark, the speaker got defensive and pursued the point to justify the statement made.
Marriage can be a fascinating and lively experience. Differences can be stimulating as long as no one has to win at the debate.
The error happens when one person makes a statement and the other chooses to get offended. Then the first person justifies his position and insists his point is accurate. The war is on. The interaction done this way often breaks marriage, a friendship, or a family.
I teach my marriage counseling clients this technique. Rather than fighting to be right, fight to find out what you are doing wrong.
In debating any matter, pursue conversation to understand the OTHER person’s viewpoint.
« I think because » instead of evolving to, « you are wrong —its This way » becomes, « Gee, I never thought about it that way. Why do you think that? ». Then the conversation turns into a curiosity experience rather than a fight. Unfortunately, too many people don’t know how to do this.
I receive calls all the time from people who want help with communication. This is a broad, rather ambiguous term.
What people are asking, is to learn how to say things to others in a way they can be heard and understood rather than producing conflict.
This means learning how to explore how others see things rather than winning.
It also means hearing the message and negotiating something both parties can live with.
Back to the marriage: it is impossible to live harmoniously with someone who doesn’t listen to you with respect. And listening with respect means doing at least some of what is being asked. To not do so causes angst from the person who feels ignored.
Marriage is about living together without stepping on each other’s buttons. So that’s the « respect » part. To try to prove your partner wrong makes him the jerk and the « right »person the saint. The whole conversation changes when we seek with curiosity to understand. This is the way in which political differences or any other differences don’t tear up the marriage.