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Getting past the words

September 8, 2011

A Great Idea…

“I believe [most conflicts] develop because people attach different meaning to the same situations…But if they can keep talking to one another and describing how they find meaning in their positions, they may reach some common ground, a place where meanings merge and compromise is possible.” (John Gottman, Ph.D., marriage researcher, in his book The Relationship Cure, p. 208)

In Other Words…

We regularly misunderstand each other. We wonder why our partners say such foolish things. And we wonder why they don’t understand our sensible perspective. We can misunderstand each other for decades—or we can take time and use empathy to understand and appreciate our partners’ points of view. When we better understand our partners and the way they view the world, we can better work through conflict.

How This Applies to You…

The next time a conflict arises between you and your partner, stop trying to push for your view. Take time to learn the meaning that your partner attaches to the situation. Ask your partner to describe the situation from his or her point of view. See if you can understand and appreciate that point of view.

To Find Out More…

For more great ideas (or to share your ideas) check out the Navigating Life’s Journey blog

For an excellent (and free!) program on marriage, see The Marriage Garden at Arkansas Families.

For an excellent book focused on marriage, read The Relationship Cure by John Gottman or The Marriage Garden by H. Wallace Goddard and James P. Marshall.

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