In my experience as a relationship counsellor, and as a husband of over 25 years, it has always seemed like a good idea to discuss every major issue with my partner until a truly satisfying agreement has been reached. It creates a sense of flow and intimacy, two basic ingredients to true partnership.
However, there is often confusion over what “agreement” really means, and this confusion generally leads to power struggle. There are two kinds of agreement: one is personal and the other is true agreement. A personal agreement is “I want you to agree with my way.’ This is the kind that feeds discord and fighting, where you will feel that if you take even the smallest step toward agreeing with your partner’s way, you will “lose”.
And you will – you will lose your way, which is safe for you.
So you can make a disagreement personal, or make it about what is true. I am always tempted to make it completely personal, and ignore the greater purpose at work behind the scenes. But when I make it personal, I suffer. When I take a step toward true agreement, I experience pain, but it’s “growing pains” that come with the process of emotional maturity. The discomfort comes from walking away from my righteous position, and toward the center point where I can join with my partner. So there is some pain, but no suffering.
Everyone knows how to keep making it personal – just make it all about protecting your vulnerability, insisting that your way is the right way, and demanding that your partner conform to your point of view. When all else fails, compromise, giving up as little as possible and getting as much as you can. But you really don’t know how to not make it personal, and therein lies the key. Not knowing.
Not knowing if you are right or wrong; not knowing what is true; not knowing how to resolve the disagreement. In that open field of “I don’t know”, you have the chance to let down your defences and leave your position, because when there is no right or wrong, there is only, “I don’t know, but I’m willing to face the fire in order to see.” I know this sounds either idealistic or impossible, but our hearts already do this. So the question becomes this:
Can I sit in the emptiness of the unknown, and trust my heart implicitly to guide me to that center point, where I can join with my partner in the peace of true agreement?
Embrace transformation with transformative behaviour, not familiar, safe, or personal behaviour. Although this is typically done, while the other appears to be getting to have their way, or just hanging on to their old patterns, what appears to be doesn’t matter.
Only your process of stepping into the unknown matters.