If you read our blog from last week, you know that belief and intention are the first requirements toward peaceful relating and finding mutual solutions. Once you believe this is possible and you have the clear intention to participate in this type of relationship, it becomes a matter of practice in order to make this a part of the fabric of your experience.
Carole and Marty are trying to make a decision about where to go on their vacation, how long to spend away and how much to spend on the trip. They have not developed the practice of looking for mutually satisfying solutions and have not cultivated the belief in that possibility. Each of them is sitting isolated and alone in their thoughts, fears and needs concerning these decisions. They are not listening to each other because their heads are filled with the clamoring ideas about how each thinks it should be. Their anger and impatience build and the room is filled with mounting tensions. Discord and dissonance reign and the reasons they were going on a vacation together are no longer even part of the exchange. Far fetched, you say? Well, some version of this is often how these types of conversations play themselves out when there is no belief and intention toward mutuality of decision making.
Barbara and Johann are also sitting down to plan their vacation. They are all excited about getting to spend time going somewhere together. They are looking forward to planning it together and creating a great and special vacation within their budget. They want to find ways to come to decisions that work for both of them. In fact they believe and intend to do so. They are sure nothing will feel right unless each is happy with it. As they both have this belief and intention, they have spoken their goals aloud to each other. They feel secure that they are being listened to by their partner, because they know they will both only be happy with a solution when it is good for both of them. They see solving problems and making decisions as a fun adventure that they share. Every time they have an experience like this, it teaches them that it is indeed possible, that it feels great, and at the same time, they know a little more about how to make it happen. They certainly find it a much more positive experience than fighting and arguing and trying to be right at their partner’s expense
Having a peaceful relationship is like riding a bicycle. At first, you can’t stay upright; you fall off and argue. But with practice, you get to know what being balanced feels like and what you need to do to maintain it, and pretty soon, you’re riding your bike, and falling off isn’t even an issue anymore.
Learning how to have a peaceful relationship takes a similar course. Some practice is involved, but once you discover the process of making decisions and resolving disagreements without conflict, a whole new way of being together emerges.
Once you have the experience of peace and joy in finding mutual solutions, that experience crowds out all other negative possibilities. It is so strong and empowering to the individuals and the couple together, that it very quickly becomes a pattern and a way of living. So get some bike lessons with your partner, and prepare to enjoy the ride.
Note: for a step-by-step description of how to achieve these experiences, sign up for our relationship newsletter in the box on the right (or below on your phone), and get a written and audio version of the chapter on Our Process from our forthcoming book How Two: Have a Successful Relationship.