Setting the stage for a happy marriage is what the “Between Men and Women” Alberta Couples Retreat is all about. A common obstacle to a happy marriage is when one or both partners are “stuck” in wanting to be “right”. One partner does, says or believes something, and the other partner can’t let go of them being “wrong”.
Common examples of positional thinking include:
- “That’s not how to raise kids.”
- “Why is he so strict?”
- “Why does she spend so much?”
- “I can spend however I want.”
- “He has to help around the house more.”
- “He never does it right so I have to do everything myself.”
If positional thinking isn’t nipped-in-the-bud:
- It forces a wedge between you.
- It creates “no-go zones” that are too uncomfortable to talk about.
- It erodes trust if one partner holds the other as “wrong” or “incapable”.
- It can cause or exacerbate arguments and disagreements.
In psychology, this thinking is called “naive realism” – “the human tendency to believe that we see the world around us objectively, and that people who disagree with us must be uninformed, irrational, or biased.” (Wikipedia)
When you can stop being positional, you and your partner will be free to be yourselves. With new perspectives come new options. Considering another person’s perspective gives you access to ideas and ways of thinking about things that you may not have considered before. The phrase “two heads are better than one” is a cliche for a reason. The outcome is often better because more is being taken into consideration. This is what being a team looks like. It’s how you go from “Me to We” in your relationship. Avoiding positional thinking builds trust, which is the foundation of a happy marriage.
If you find yourself locked into being positional and you want to be a team and achieve a happy marriage, here’s an exercise that can help. Remember, avoiding positionality isn’t about agreeing with the other person. It’s also not about doing whatever the other person wants. It’s about accepting the validity of the other person’s perspective. Once you’ve done that, you are free to consider if that perspective has something to offer the situation that you didn’t think of.
Pick one or more actions from the following list and commit to doing it for the next 7 days. Most importantly, have fun with this!
- You’re a natural “fixer”, though all she often wants you to do is listen. When she comes to you to talk about a problem, avoid offering the fix right away unless that’s what she wants. To know if she wants you to fix it or to just to listen, you can simply ask her.
- When she asks you for something, avoid assessing if it makes sense, or questioning the request (i.e., “Why do you want that?”; “Can’t you do it yourself?”). Just decide for yourself if you want to do it, and base your response on that.
- When you are working on a project, ask for her opinion on how to do an aspect of it (even if you know you can do it yourself). You’re not obligated to accept her ideas, just give them fair consideration. You might be surprised.
- When you ask him to do something, resist the urge to tell him how to do it. You’ll see that his way may produce the same result, even though he does it differently than you would have.
- Think of at least one thing everyday that he did “wrong” (recently, or in the past). Find something in that effort that you can thank him for WITHOUT reference to what was wrong.
- When you are working on a project, ask for his opinion on how to do an aspect of it (even if you know you can do it yourself). You’re not obligated to accept his ideas, just give them fair consideration. You might be surprised.
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