Having a Dynamite Intimate Relationship – Secret #4
SECRET #4: Do You Always Have to Be Right?
You know what screws up relationships quite often, if not daily?
Assumptions often are the invisible fly in the ointment of many relationships.
In my psychotherapy practice, I had a “Pre-Marital Package” and one thing it involved was a 3-page questionnaire that each person did separately, then brought to session without them seeing one another’s answers. We read them aloud – he read his answer to #1 then she read her answer to #1. She, then, read her answer to #2, and he, then, read his answer to #2. There were over 70 questions.
Were it not such a serious matter, it would have been a very funny impromptu skit. Here are some exclamations I remember:
“What? What do you mean you are going to quit work when we get married???”
“I will NOT raise our children Catholic!”
“Are you kidding? You ARE kidding right? We have to go to your parents’ house EVERY Christmas???”
“Oh, really? Why do I have to always be the one:
- to take out the trash?”
- to do the grocery shopping?”
- to discipline OUR kids?”
- who has to answer, “What's for supper!”?”
The largest disagreements were over kids, money, and in-laws. And one other: Careers.
For example, several times it was said by women, “I am not giving up my career because you want to…
- have kids so soon.”
- stay home and cook for you.”
- move to [another city].”
I also remember one woman saying this about money: “Uh, no, you will NOT be in charge of all our money. I took care of my income quite well before I met you, and I plan on continuing to do so, married or not.”
Should you share all of your assumptions with your intimate significant other?
That is up to you, but I wouldn’t bother. First, they are endless. Secondly, why buy trouble? They will come up without looking for them.
But here is what I would suggest. When the ugly head of differing assumptions arises, have the means to discuss them. Calmly.
Let’s make it clear:
1 – Differences are normal.
2 – Settling differences can be done, not only in an amicable manner but also in a beneficial one.
3 – You do NOT have to agree on all differences!
The big 3 mindsets that can neutralize disagreement
1. It is not only fingerprints that are different for everyone, so are tastes, preferences, ideas about loyalty, fairness, honesty, etc. It never ends, to be honest. So, why are we surprised when we discover our partner is not JUST LIKE US?
2. What creates hard feelings? We falsely believe that one person must be wrong in a disagreement. If instinctively feel that if we can make the other person wrong then we have to be right. Right? No, not really – that logic does not hold. Additionally, NO ONE wants to be wrong, right? So, we fight mightily not to be cornered into being the wrong one. It is not about the other person being right. We just do not want to be the dreaded
3. What creates hard feelings? We falsely believe that one person must be wrong in a disagreement. If instinctively feel that if we can make the other person wrong then we have to be right. Right? No, not really – that logic does not hold. Additionally, NO ONE wants to be wrong, right? So, we fight mightily not to be cornered into being the wrong one. It is not about the other person being right. We just do not want to be the dreaded loser.
Reminder from Dr. Z: None of these things work. If you don’t use them. Just try ONE: I would suggest #3 above. And see what happens. Okay?
This leads us into a series coming up on How to Win the Fight. In a workshop titled LOVE, SEX and COMMUNICATION, almost all of the questions and the reason many attended was not because of LOVE. Or SEX. It was, I would guess, about 80 percent COMMUNICATION issues. (Surprising? Think about it. Aren’t most of your issues with your intimate other beneath that umbrella?) Out of that came what were some of the best suggestions ever on how to argue productively. I will do a blog on each one. Some will surprise you a little. Some, a lot.
In other words, stay tuned!