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Are You and
Your Spouse in a Communication
Conundrum? Here's What to
By Susie and Otto Collins
A conundrum is "anything that
puzzles," according to the
When you and your mate are in a
disagreement and neither of you can
figure out what the other one is
really saying, this is a
be told, sometimes, neither of
you really wants to truly figure out
what the other one is saying.
You two might hold radically
different views about how to manage
your money. One of you might tend to
save, save, and save some more
for the future while the other one
wants to live it up a bit right
It could be that you and your spouse
approach parenting in what seem
like oppositional ways. You think
that your kids need more structure
and boundaries and your mate insists
that they need less.
Or, maybe you and your partner have
vastly different sex drives. He
would like to make love every single
night and you just aren't in the
mood that often.
Regardless of what the issue is
about which you and your mate
disagree, part of what keeps the
conflict going (and intensifying) is
the fact that neither of you can (or
is willing to) understand where
the other one is coming from.
Agreeing to disagree doesn't always
ease the tension.
A resolution for whatever the topic
is might appear to be an
impossibility and so you two decide
to "agree to disagree."
Agreeing to disagree is sometimes
effective for a couple when it
comes to these communication
After all, it certainly
isn't helping your marriage to hash
out each of your "sides"
continuously and without either of
you budging from your own position.
However, there are times when
agreeing to disagree is just another
way to say that, essentially, "We
can't agree on this and we're going
to stop talking about it. But, we're
not going to stop holding this
disagreement against one another."
You two might not be discussing or
arguing about the kids, money,
sex or some other topic, but you
continue to close down to one
another. Your connection is
significantly-- and negatively--
You can disagree, but don't
It is usually wise to continue to
talk about even those issues about
which you and your mate do not see
eye-to-eye. The key here is to
let yourselves disagree with one
another (if that's how you truly
feel), but don't disengage.
When you disengage, you are
indicating to your partner that you
basically shutting down and won't
even be attempting to understand
what he or she is trying to tell you
regarding this topic.
words, you aren't really going to
When you listen to your mate in an
engaged way, you stay open-- even
if you don't see things the same way
and even if you don't intend to
change your mind.
You place your
connection with your partner ABOVE
being right or "winning" the debate.
And, when you listen in an engaged
manner, you allow yourself to
gain a clearer and more accurate
understanding of where your partner
is coming from.
Again, you might
still disagree, but the respect and
bond between you and your spouse
remain intact because there is
Engaged listening opens you up to
solutions where you both "win."
There can be some really difficult
scenarios that arise in your
marriage. These might pertain to
values that you hold deeply and
have held for a long, long time.
You might even question your whole
relationship because you and your
mate cannot find a resolution that
serves both of you about this
If you find yourself in such a
situation, we advise you to take a
step back and go within yourself.
Get clear about what is most
important to you about this topic
really focus in on the issue at
For example, don't let a tense
decision that needs to be made about
your children stray into your
resentments about something that
happened solely between you and your
Set aside any beliefs that you might
have that to understand your
partner's perspective you will have
to "give up" your own ideas or
"give in" to him or her.
yourself that you can connect with
your mate by listening in an engaged
way and also stay true to
Be on the lookout for places where
your now-expanded understanding
of your mate's views overlaps with
This is where you will
find the solutions where you both
can feel satisfied.
For information to help you communicate for
deeper connection and love--especially
when it's difficult, visit