How your partner sees things. Are you curious?

couple communication

Most people are willing to admit that everyone has a unique point of view and their own valid perceptions.  That's easy when we are cool, calm and rational.   The fact is when things heat up, especially with those we are  close to, we seek comfort in the knowledge that the way we see the world is the way the world is.  When our partner disagrees with us we may calmly try to set them straight.  However, if they don't get the 'truth' soon enough, we may loose patience and then things can get nasty.  How could they be so wrong?  After a while, and many hours of arguments later,  we may come to the conclusion that they are plain wrong about most things and  decide the relationship is just wrong.

Very often, when couples come to see me,  this is the stage they are at in their relationship. They feel stuck with a partner who just doesn't see the obvious truth.  If they could just get their partner to understand where they have been going wrong all would be well.

I suggest a different approach, because  getting your partner to see it all your way just won't work. I suggest that taking a stance of respectful curiosity towards your partner's perspective can work wonders.  It isn't easy to do, especially in the heat of an argument, but it is definitely doable.

What would it be like for you and your partner if instead of running through the same scenario in your arguments, you tried something new, very different.  Let's say you are listening to your partner and you get that familiar feeling that you've heard it all before and they are just wrong and it's unfair. What if instead of the usual counter attack that doesn't work and tends to heat things up even more, you were to step back for a moment emotionally and try to slow things down.  You are listening and wondering how you both could see things so differently and then, here's the new part, you explain that you are having trouble understanding her/his perspective and would like them to help you understand how they see things.  This must come from a genuine place for it to have the power it can have.  When you express real curiosity towards your partner's perspective, a lot in your relationship can shift, a real connection can take place.  It doesn't mean you abandon your perspective, it means you begin to appreciate the others perspective and this translates into appreciating the other.  For the men reading this, let me say the women I've worked with have made it very clear, curiosity towards their view of things is key for them to feel appreciated and valued.  For men, a partner's willingness to hear their  perspective and take a non judgmental attitude towards it, goes a long way.

By beginning to open to your partner's perspective and appreciating it as true for them, a whole world can open up to you.  Your partner's different view can become less a source of conflict and more a source of knowledge.  A lot of good can follow from that.