By: Kristen Sohlman, MACP,RP
Try not to fall into the trap of right and wrong, when, in fact, multiple truths can exist in any given situation. When you disagree with someone, that does not make you right and the other person wrong.
How do you deal with a situation that you disagree with?
This is an important question faced by many partners. When partners are faced with differences of opinion, they often are faced with a strong urge to solve the situation by coming to an agreement. The challenge is this often pushes one partner to change their opinion in order to agree with the opinion of the other partner.
Over time, this can leave lasting and detrimental impacts upon the relationship where one partner has lost a sense of who they are within the relationship, and resentment can build. While it might feel logical that partners be on the same page, this is not necessary for a healthy relationship. That’s right, you do not actually have to agree!
A healthy relationship means that both individuals in the relationship have thoughts, feelings, and needs that are important and hold value within the relationship. In fact, research from the Gottman Institute identify that it is not about being on the same page or coming to agreements that makes happy relationships, as even the most successful and happiest of relationships disagree on many core issues.
What makes a successful and happy relationship is a connection that begins when you and your partner experience being seen, heard, and accepted by one another. This makes strong emotional attachments as your own world and reality is known to your partner and is welcomed. This makes a safe and happy relationship.
When there is conflict or differences of opinion, repair happens when both partners’ thoughts, feelings, and needs are validated as important and hold value within the relationship. By validating your partner’s opinion and view, you are communicating that you see them, and while you may not agree with their opinion or view, you accept and respect them for who they are even when their views differ from your own. There are no buts in acceptance and respect, there are only ands. "I hear you and…"
“Repair happens when we build bridges of validation that connect us, deepening our sense of belonging and security.” -The Gottman Institute
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