Imagine sitting in a room with another person; you on one side; them on the opposite side. In front to you both is a large heavy metal box which you both know contains a special surprise. On your side you see a door with massive hinges and a large combination safe lock. On the other side is a thin wooden panel held in place by 4 simple phillips head screws. The discussion begins as to what to do. Your partner starts out excited at the easy prospects of getting to the surprise. You however are shocked at their seemingly foolish optimism and quickly bring things back to reality with the seeming impossibility of the task at hand. They confront you with your quick desire to give up on something so obviously easy and you, on the other hand, berate them for being so naive and not living in reality. You begin to argue over what it would take to open the box; them talking about simple hand tools you talking about a blow torch and dynamite. Next thing you know you are yelling at them for being so simple minded and stupid. They yell back with how you never value their opinions and how self righteous and stubborn you are. Voices are raised, feelings are hurt, the past is being brought up and you both conclude; who needs this. You exit the room behind you to get away from this mean, foolish person, wanting nothing more than to put this all behind you. They too, exit the room behind them asking why something so simple ends up like this and conclude the prize probably wasn’t worth it anyway. You both are CONVINCED you are right and they are wrong and so confused as to why they won’t admit it.
So the question is, who was right? They stumbled over what so many couples stumble over all the time - it is “their individual perspective.” You see, a perspective is not necessarily right or wrong. It is shaped by what we see from our vantage point and by our experiences, our past, our personality and even our gender. It shapes our expectations and our apprehensions and often seems to create insurmountable obstacles, especially if our perspectives are very different. In our illustration the discussion quickly devolved into who was right or wrong, accusations and defensiveness. They could not see that the combination of perspectives, expectations and apprehensions would have led them to a prize rather than another unsolved conflict that just further entrenched them in past hurt.
One of the secrets to healthy marital communication that leads two people into becoming teammates, who are working successfully to find the surprises of life and of marriage, is to recognize the value of different (not right or wrong) perspectives and expectations. This process of hearing and being heard creates understanding. It is the misguided view that one perspective has to be right and the other wrong that creates the feelings of accusation and defensiveness which leads to emotions like anger and hurt, which shuts down communication and keeps the prize locked in the box.
Counseling or, the use of a more objective third party who has experience at helping you learn these tools, works very well to create new patterns of communication. So ask yourself, “what amazing surprises are we missing by not working to understand our different and sometimes unique perspectives.”
May God bless your desire for healthy relationships.
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The purpose of this blog is to give helpful insights into issues, themes and situations that hinder living in fullness of life. Posted from newest to oldest, they cover a variety of subjects. Browse by scrolling through the articles or using the Archive. The 1st post "Greetings" is an introduction to this blog. More about Abundant Life Services can be found via the link to the website. Please feel free to comment if you would like or submit ideas for future posts.