Men and women are two very different beings. From a stereotypical standpoint, men are ‘logical’ while women tend to be more ‘emotional’. We see things from two very distinct perspectives. I hear of couples who share their conflict stories I with statements like, ‘he always…’ or ‘if she would just…’ All I hear is one spouse blaming the other. When conflict erupts, we tend to stake our ground and refuse to move from one side of the situation while our spouse has camped out on the other. Why does it seem so hard, if not impossible to resolve conflict? I think one of the biggest problems is that we tend to label the other person as wrong. Too often (myself included) we feel the other is wrong because we do not see their perspective.
Guys, if you are like me, logical (I have met some couples where the women are the logical ones and the men are the emotional ones), we tend to not feel comfortable with all this ‘emotional, feely stuff’ so we see our wife as wrong. ‘She is always so emotional’. Ladies (or the few of you men out there who are emotional), if you are like my wife, you may tend to see your husbands as wrong because ‘they don’t care about emotions and they have to rationalize everything’! Do these statements sound familiar? They do in my house and most couples I work with. We label our spouse as the problem. If our spouse is the problem, what is the quickest way to get rid of the problem? Well, if your spouse is the problem, you have to get rid of your spouse. No wonder conflict is so hard to resolve!
What if, instead of seeing our spouse (who is supposed to be our teammate) as the problem, we actually redefined the problem as the problem. To resolve the problem would then require both husband and wife to become teammates and actually resolve the problem instead of blaming the other person. The problem is the problem. Your spouse is not necessarily wrong because they are different than you or they perceive things differently. When I learned the phrase, ‘not wrong, just different’, it radically re-shaped the way I approached conflict (well, most of the time…sometimes I was still an idiot!).
You and your spouse are supposed to see things differently because you are different people with different backgrounds and experiences. These differences shape us to be the person we are today. If I am looking at an object from one angle and she is looking at it from another angle, we see different aspects of the same object. It does not mean the other person is wrong because they see something we do not. Once the phrase, ‘not wrong, just different’ takes root in your relationship hopefully the conflict will begin to be re-defined. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint…it may not come naturally at first, but keep trying to redefine the problem.
- Ask yourself how you and your spouse different? Why do you see different aspects of the same situation?
- Next time you engage in conflict, say to yourself (or if your bold you can say it out loud), ‘not wrong, just different’
- This week, tell your spouse 3 things you appreciate that they do differently than you.