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Is It Possible To “Agree To Disagree” with Your Partner and Stay Connected?

Is It Possible To “Agree To Disagree” with Your Partner and Stay Connected?

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” – Charles Eames

We’ve all been there.

You and someone you care deeply about just don't see eye to eye about a particular issue. You may debate with one another and even argue in favor of your perspective, but to no avail.

You and this special someone in your life finally decide to "agree to disagree" about this topic.

It’s usually far easier to "agree to disagree" with an extended family member, a friend or a co-worker. After all, quite often you don't live with these people and there is some amount of distance between you that makes this kind of a pseudo-resolution work.

But when you and your partner in a love relationship or marriage have reached the point that neither of you is willing to budge and the only thing you can do is "agree to disagree," disconnection can result.

While it's true you cannot force your mate to believe that your perspective is better and it's inadvisable to simply go along with your partner's plan to "keep the peace," you do need to find a way to communicate about this tricky topic and keep your connection strong.

With an open heart and a willingness to listen, you may find that you and your partner don't have to see eye to eye about everything and you can still stay close.

Joe and Brandy have been through this discussion before and, yet again, it's ended up in a stalemate. Joe thinks that it's time their teenage son start learning to drive.

Although their son is only 14, Joe wants to begin teaching him how to drive- starting out in parking lots or on rural roads.

Brandy is staunchly against this idea. She's read the statistics of how many teen boys get into car accidents and she would rather their son wait until he's 18 to drive, not 14.

Brandy is willing to consider driving lessons for their son when he’s 16, but not a day sooner!

After going round and round about this, Joe and Brandy have decided to "agree to disagree." The problem is, Joe is beginning to think that he and their son will have to sneak these driving lessons that Joe feels strongly about if they're ever going to happen.

Get to the heart of the matter.

Whatever it is that you and your partner have "agreed to disagree" about, take some time to get a deeper look at the issue for you. If you feel so strongly about this that you are willing to dig in your heels, it is probably a hot button issue for you!

When you think about this topic, what are your dominant thoughts and feelings? Does this situation remind you of anything that happened in your past?

You might want to write down the observations you make about your thoughts, feelings and recalled memories. These can help you get a better grasp of the dimensions of this issue.

When Brandy takes a deeper look at the question of their son learning to drive at the age of 14, she feels a preponderance of fear. She is fearful about her son getting hurt or hurting others accidentally. She also realizes that she is fearful and sad about her son getting older and more independent.

Brandy can now see that a part of her wants to delay his growing up as much as she can. While she feels a bit embarrassed by this realization, it is helps Brandy get clearer about her position on the matter.

Don’t make it about winning or losing.

Sometimes when a couple gets stuck in a disagreement, one or both of them is attached to the idea of "winning" the discussion. Although this might not be the conscious thought, it is the compulsion all the same.

Inwardly and honestly reflect on your motivations. If you are wanting to "win" about this disagreement, acknowledge that to yourself.

Simply admitting that you are feeling competitive, defensive or prideful can help you to ease up. You can then begin to re-focus on the actual issue at hand.

If one or both of you is feeling powerless in some way in your relationship, you might feel compelled to "win." Ask yourself what you need in order to feel more powerful and then set aside a separate time when you can make requests of your partner that can help you.

It might also be that you don't feel powerful in your life in general. See what changes you can make in how you view yourself, your abilities and your life in order to make a shift and improve how you are feeling.

Open up to better understand.

Keep yourself as open as you can when you are communicating with your mate about this topic upon which you two have "agreed to disagree." This will probably require you to do the inner work we've suggested above so that when you talk about the issue, you are really able to hone in on it.

Joe has realized that "winning" with Brandy - ­especially about this topic - is very important to him. Joe feels like Brandy has lead the way in parenting their children over the years and he'd like to step up and take control in this area.

Remembering the special times he had with his father when he learned how to drive as a teen, Joe wants to create new memories with his own son. As Joe realizes his deeper feelings about all of this, he is able to loosen up around his position somewhat.

When Joe and Brandy sit down again, they are both feeling less intense about each of-their "sides" and they can stay open to truly listen to one another. They feel more confident that they can come up with a resolution and decision that both of them can feel good about.

As you listen to understand your partner and how he or she feels about this particular topic, you won't necessarily come away with a changed mind ­neither will your mate.

What can be different is that you and your partner will each feel listened to and probably better understood. You might realize that what your mate is asking for or suggesting is an idea that has some merit after all.

From this point of feeling heard and better understood, the two of you can make choices while also moving closer together.

© Susie & Otto Collins. All Rights Reserved.  

© Susie & Otto Collins. All Rights Reserved.

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