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It Is Important To See The Other's Viewpoint In Your Relationship

Two birdsPeople get into quarrels over all sorts of things, big and small. They get upset because they feel they’re not going to get what they want; anything from a clean kitchen to another child. They might feel hurt, attacked, insulted, ignored – whatever, some negative feelings are there, yet more often than not, they are unacknowledged and disguised by finding reasons that match.

And of course, this is how your partner is seeing you. You can break this impasse by changing the focus from how this affects you to the reasons for why they are taking their position. Ask not just why they think that way, but what they are feeling about it. Bear in mind that they probably don’t know what the feelings behind their position are. In other words, show empathy.

Just as understanding yourself is an important component in your relationship, so is knowing your partner, their automatic responses and patterns. Do they always seem to push away new ideas? Do they make decisions at a different pace than you do – too slow, too fast? What part of their communication is verbal and how much do they say with their facial expressions and body postures?

The other day Maude was talking with a friend who is in a long-term relationship where both partners have done a lot of work to find mutual solutions and a harmonious way of being together. He was describing how some of the previous tensions that plagued them have transformed. There were some places where they frequently butted heads and both wound up feeling frustrated and angry. They decided together to always remember that they are on the same side and to remind each other whenever one of them forgets. He said that their values match, so they should be able to resolve anything else.

By reaffirming that they were going to listen to each other and pay attention to each other more, they felt a different energy come into play. One of the most important things was that each of them recognized that the other’s response was not about them. If they were not feeling attacked or rejected, it became much easier for them to listen to each other with love.

The acceptance that occurs when you listen to your partner, friend or relative with an open loving heart is a powerful primary force. When you can put yourself aside and really think of the other, hear what they are saying and asking for, anger dissipates. You are no longer defending, protecting and justifying. You are instead coming from the desire to understand and to create solutions that work for both of you. The feeling of separateness dissipates and the sense of mutuality grows.

This may not resolve the disagreement, but it does provide a starting point. With the knowledge you gain from hearing your partner, unencumbered by being mainly involved with yourself, you can create non-threatening ways to communicate. You can introduce ideas and plans in a way that may be more easily heard and fit better to their ability to respond. In a relationship based on seeking mutuality, you will discover the never-ending possibilities for peaceful solutions you can create together.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

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Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week in our blog, we discussed how important it is to see the other's viewpoint in your relationship. Here are some articles written about different aspects of this topic.

Learning to See Things From Your Partner’s Point of View "What we really want is to be truly understood. And to be really seen by the person we care about. To find someone who can read our minds and meet our needs. To find true love and intimacy that lasts a lifetime.... But despite our deep longing to be connected with the one we choose to be with, Happy Ever After rarely happens. Most often, when one partner is angry, the other person becomes angry back or shuts down. During conflict, the two partners disconnect from each other. The relationship suffers as people become disillusioned with their partner."

The Importance of Taking the Perspective of Others "In order to resolve conflict constructively, so that all parties are satisfied with the outcome, a person must be able to hold all the opposing ideas, positions, and perspectives in mind at the same time and still function effectively. Successful problem-solving and conflict resolution largely depends on a person’s ability to take the opponent’s cognitive and affective perspectives and understand how the conflict appears to the other person and how that person is reacting emotionally and attitudinally."

Embracing the Perspective of Your Wife, Husband or Romantic Partner "Learning to understand and appreciate your wife, husband, or romantic partner’s perspective is an essential skill. Your mutual happiness depends on seeing and feeling what life is like from the perspective of your mate. Couples that fail to empathetically embrace their mate’s perspective, his or her way of perceiving the world, remain unhappy."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
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