We had such an interesting email from Dina that we wanted to share it with you. She was commenting on the the virtual book tour we hosted for Carol Tavris. In reaction to Carol’s thoughts about resolving conflicts with your partner, Dina said, “Right you are that finding common ground, or a ‘shared story’, can be the beginning to resolution. Most reasonable people would agree with that. The problem is finding a strategy for how to reach commonality. That’s where most couples, even the most well-intentioned ones, get stuck. They don’t know how to say what matters most without being hurtful. Or, how to problem-solve in a way that respects both people. None of that is in the marriage instructions manual.”
Then Dina went on to say, “If it’s okay, I’d like to share a bit of practical advice. First, decide what are wants and what are absolute needs. Often in conflict, we demand what we want because it’s most convenient and desirable. It’s human nature, and leads to arguments. (And, no, saying I need it doesn’t automatically make something a need- sorry). Needs are essentials.”
“Here’s a simple example: I want to go to the movies. You want to go to dinner, and we only have time for one activity. Focusing on our desires only gets us stuck-movies, dinner, movies, dinner. Things change if we shift the conversation. If we talk about our respective needs- to eat, to be entertained and spend time together- we can generate more options to meet those needs. Like, going to a drive-in movie instead. Have trouble identifying your needs from wants? Ask yourself: why and so what? Why is that important and what will be different if I get it?”
Dina continued, “Second, make time to learn how to talk to each other. Loving negotiation is an essential part of marriage and a required skill for sandwiched boomers, male or female. Take a mediation course to boost your comfort and abilities to negotiate better. Even if a resolution isn’t possible, your relationship will be enhanced by knowing how to say what’s most important to you, listen compassionately and create realistic options.”
If you would like to hear more from Dina – who says she is “on a mission to re-invent midlife marriage” – check out her site, http://www.thismarriagething.com, and let us know what you think.