Couples Communication / Couples Counseling
Why don’t I feel good after we “agree to disagree?”
Many times when individuals come into couples counseling, I hear the dreaded well, “ we will just have to agree to disagree.” The only problem with this is that it is said with disappointment and contempt. Stop throwing in the “agree to disagree towel” leaving you feeling like you have yet another communication breakdown. I like the way Gordan White described the contemptuous reasons couples might use the term.
So How do we stop fighting and move on?
“Agree to disagree” is an awesome tool when used properly. In my home, it is our toothpaste tube management. I prefer to not waste time or energy on perfectly and equally squeezing my tube, but rather smush and mash the thing until eventually paste will blurp out. It works for me, and I have never had grief over it. However, my husband prefers to perfectly squeeze the tube evenly from first use to last leaving a flat and well-used tube of paste at the end. It is extremely functional and efficient. In our home, this is not something we consider worthy of conflict or trying to influence each other to a change in behavior or belief of a right or a wrong way, or even compromising about. We rather chalk this up to agree to disagree on the way it should be done, and move on with our lives.
But what about Fighting about finances, fighting about kids?
Now this is an easy example, but what about the items on your relationship and marriage conflict list that isn’t so easy to navigate through, like fighting about finances (taking the vacation vs. paying off the debt), or how to discipline the kids, time out vs. spanking, or taking the promotion leading to more hours or being more present at home? This is where we have to assess what tool to use and realize that agreeing to disagree will leave one person feeling like they have lost. This is the wrong communication tool for the job.
What you are really looking for hear is the art of compromise. Laying both agendas and desires on the table, sharing the why’s, the feelings and concerns about doing it the other way. Then allowing yourself to actively listen to your partner to the same things. At this point, you all can begin a meeting in the middle or compromise in your decisions.
Your marriage deserves better communication!
So to sum up, next time you and your partner or in a negative cycle of bickering or fighting and land at the disgruntled “agree to disagree” table, please take a moment to sit back and ask if the compromise tool should be used instead.
If you have a hot topic that you feel you could use assistance or support creating a unique compromise please feel free to reach out, I would love to help you succeed in your couples challenges through couples counseling and communication coaching.
Check out my video on how to make agreeing to disagree healthy in your home.
Healthy Communication=Happy Couples
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Pare Underwood LPC
972-961-9570 ext. 700
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