If I am right, by default, you are wrong.
Does that sound accurate?
Logically, that is sometimes true. For example, you can say 2+3=4, but that is simply wrong. But, logic has its limits. Notice the word ‘simply’. Often, complicated communication with our loved ones is far from simple. Instead, we wrestle with emotional or values-oriented struggles. How do you handle moments during which you disagree with someone you love?
- Consider the idea that you are both right. Example: Negotiating plans for the 4th of July. One of you feels that honoring tradition is important, and tradition says you go to the family cabin every year. Conversely, the other party says that, while I like that tradition, I would like one year during which we stay home and enjoy the 4th of July with our friends and neighbors.
Who is right?
You both are. Perspective taking is an empowering strategy that allows you to understand someone’s opinion without having to agree with it.
2. Listen more than you talk. There is a subtle but distinct difference in how people communicate: are you truly listening, or are you waiting to talk? Sometimes, when our loved ones are sharing their perspectives, we can find ourselves restless while they share. When we are restless, we are not truly listening. Pay attention to what your communication partner has to say. Re-read number 1 above; you might both be right.
- Negotiate. In sessions, I sometimes joke that the art of compromise is that everyone walks away slightly dissatisfied. While this prompts a chuckle, it also reminds us that we can’t always have our way. As highlighted in #1 above, if we are both right, then we will both compromise. For example, can you drive to the family cabin July 3rd to enable participation in some of the traditions, and plan to leave by 1pm to honor your spouse’s needs? Be willing to give a little. Doing so is a gesture orfloving surrender.
- Ask yourself: is the conflict more important than the relationship? The answer is usually no. While one may be frustrated with the spouse’s desire to adhere to the 4th of July tradition, it isn’t a deal breaker. Sometimes, asking yourself that question- is the relationship more important than the conflict?- helps discern your next move.
Above all else, remember that:
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love is not rude
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
When we follow these rules, God directs our steps