Every relationship has its fair share of arguments. However, the hardest and most draining arguments in relationships are often the ones that occur when we feel our partner is being unreasonable and unwavering – especially those that happen over and over and OVER again. It’s incredibly difficult to try and reason with someone who, essentially, comes towards you like an impenetrable brick wall.
Since you can’t change your partner’s behavior (or perspective), let’s talk about what YOU can do about that:
Chances are, you’ve never heard the phrase “accepting influence,” but it’s an ESSENTIAL skill of healthy relationships. What it means is finding some aspects of your partner’s position that you can understand and agree with. This does not mean that you AGREE with your partner, nor does it mean that you are telling them that your perspective is wrong. Instead, it means that you are allowing your partner’s perspective to influence you – their thoughts are not immediately dismissed as incorrect, but rather explored as a means to help them feel more validated and understood.
Sounds lovely, right?? I know it’s not easy, ESPECIALLY if your perspective is being equally dismissed. So, here’s what YOU can do:
- Different, but Equally Valid: It is critical for you to approach a conflict with the pretense that your partner has a different, but equally valid perspective. The bottom line is, we all see reality from our own lens – that lens is colored by our backgrounds, our personalities, and our experiences. As similar as you may feel to your partner, you both are two very different people with very different lenses. Before you even speak to your partner about an area of conflict, establish the mindset that you are walking into the discussion to better understand their erspective (which will not only make them feel more understood and loved, but also make them more open to doing the same for you).
- Stop Countering:This is tough, especially when your partner is CLEARLY wrong (slightly kidding…). When you are listening to what your partner is saying, it is incredibly important to make sure that you are listening to understand rather than listening to retort. It is very possible that your partner may be asking you for something that you are unable to give, for whatever reason. However, if you take the time to explore why it is that they want what they want, rather than telling them why they are being unreasonable, you may find that their need may be something that you can meet in alternative ways. Then you can recognize your partner’s needs, while meeting it in a way that also addresses your own. If all you do is shut your partner down and counter their statements, you lose the opportunity to do this.
- Different, but Equally Important: Remember that your partner’s needs may be different than your own, but they are still their NEEDS. Although something seems trivial to you, it could mean the world to your partner. When you take the time to understand your partner’s needs, you also learn how you can better meet them. And a partner who feels you do that for them is more likely to want to do the same for you.
“Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?”
I would argue that you can have both, but only if you allow your partner to have both also. Accepting influence means that you are accepting the fact that you both are right, and you both have needs that need to be met. Rather than combating your partner to ensure your needs are met, when you yield to your partner’s needs, they will yield for you to.
…and that, my friends, is what “winning” is all about.