WHY THIS TOPIC: One aspect of Emotional Fitness Training is about using your EQ or emotional intelligence to get along socially. It has helped me avoid murder or divorce, but barely. Husband and I have an ongoing 45-year-old fight. It started when we were courting. Just had another bout a few days ago. The big issue is always the same. He doesn’t understand.
We only fight when I stop agreeing with the man. Like Marge Simpson, I am a bit of a fight phobic and a peace maker. I’d rather make nice than mix it up. In fact, I married husband because he would rather mix it up than be quiet and stood up for me when I wouldn’t stand up for myself. Fact: what you marry someone for can also become a thorn.
Rather then fight, I do what the experts on such things call Gunny Sacking. Also what the Transactional Analysis people call Stamp Collecting. I hold my annoyance in until the sack breaks or I have collected a enough Victim Stamps that I feel entitled to make a stand.
That is a digression. Back to the main topic for our fights are always about who owns the truth.
Now it is important to remember that David is a Talmudic scholar well-trained to argue. However, I am descended from a long line of Philadelphia Lawyers and was on my high school debate team. Moreover, living with David has modeled that one can argue and still be friends. The first two facts are probably why some of our fights bruise.
This post was sparked only partly by the recent bout in our ongoing fight, but also by my growing sadness at the world-wide fights about who owns the truth, and finally, by an article in the Harvard Business Review by Charalambos Vlachoutsicos.
The name of the article Understanding Someone’s Inner Logic. It requires a subscription to read, so here is the quote that starts it off.
We’ve all been there. The subordinate we’re talking to, the boss we’re reporting to, the supplier we’re dealing with is being plain unreasonable. They somehow don’t “get it” and refuse to even consider what seem to us to be perfectly reasonable requests or complaints. We end up hugely frustrated, get a bit tetchy, and then they take offense. Pretty quickly the dynamic deteriorates and we lose a valued employee, upset an important manager, or maybe lose a deal.
Or as in the case of David and me, disturbs our married bliss.
The article has a wonderful little story about different truths. Vlachoutsicos tells of his first visit to the Bolesho Ballet. He is told by his host that come intermission, it is traditional for everyone to buy a glass of champagne. Intermission comes, everyone rushes to the lobby and the bar to observe the tradition. But there are only four servers at the bar and most of the crowd goes thirsty.
Vlachoutsicos does not get his; upon return to his seat complains to his host about the poor service and suggests adding more bar men would let everyone enjoy champagne. He does so with a bit of sarcasm and berates the Russians.
His host replies with a sarcastic thank you, saying he is sure the Russians never would think to add more barmen.
There is silence for a few minutes; the host softens and explains, “My friend, there is not enough champagne to go around, and this is how the theater saves face.”
How this applies to David and me. He has his truth and I have mine. Moreover, we have very different goals when we argue. He wants to get at the truth. I, therapist that I am, want him to understand the thoughts and feelings underlying my position whether it makes sense logically or not. When he gets my logic, the fights end. When he persists in looking for his truth and I somehow can’t let it be, we fight.
Sigh, this is also why he thinks I start most of the fights. And thinks I am daft. And he is right on the facts of that, wrong on the logic.
STAYING STRONG TIPS
Here is what Vlachoutsicos suggests:
Focus especially on understanding:
- Their position and history. Look at their track records in interactions — with others as well as yourself. Talk to their former managers and former colleagues.
- Their strengths and weaknesses. Are they obstinate or flexible? Are they proactive or indecisive? Do they want to learn or do they know it all?
- What they want out of the interaction. Are they motivated by money or other private agendas?
- What prejudices or misperceptions they might have about you.
He also says,
You can also learn a lot about people’s motivations, strengths, and weaknesses from their participation in the interaction. Someone who is aggressive in an interaction, for example, is probably defensive about some territory issue. Take notes of who is contributing what and how they are communicating. Look out for unexpected reactions. This is a sure sign that you haven’t got a handle on their inner logic.
My thoughts. If you want to maintain a relationship, you have to know when to hold it, when to fold it, when to let go, when to practice kindness, when to forgive, how to make an amends, when stress is leading you astray, and finally, when to stand strong.
It has taken me many, many years to let go of the issues that don’t matter. But as shown recently, sometimes I cannot practice what I preach or I have a very strong need to stand strong. Still some of my stand strong fights end well as David will get it. I just wish there was an easier way.
Be kind to me, like this post or share. If you didn’t like it tell me why. You might convince me I am wrong.
Click here for my free Ebook: The 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Training Exercises. Being kind helps many, you included.
Stay strong, life is often painful, but if you are luck it is just as often wonderful.