“How on earth are you not seeing this the way I am?”

That is the typical reaction when confronted with an issue such as the “6 or 9” question above. Finding the answer to these types of disagreements won’t happen by arguing your perspective, but it can happen if you are willing to view an issue from your partner’s perspective. So what makes this so difficult for couples to do?

Viewing an issue from your partner’s perspective, rather than arguing your case like an attorney, often feels like you are giving in, relinquishing power, losing. However, if both partners can learn that swapping perspectives is not a sign of defeat but simply an attempt to understand, then there is a better chance for a win/win scenario.

You have much more “control” over looking at the other side rather than getting someone to look at yours. If both people in a partnership strive for this then both have the opportunity to feel heard and understood, even if not necessarily agreed with.

So the next time you’re in a disagreement with your partner, change your question to, “How are you seeing this the way that you do”? Become an investigator of sorts; learn all the information you can about why your partner feels so strongly about a point. What fuels this fire for them? What other feelings do they have regarding the issue besides the initial anger, indignance, or frustration? Challenge yourself to become curious rather than migrating back to your own position. Try to avoid giving an opinion or jumping to a solution. Spend more time learning about each others’ thoughts and feelings. This way of communicating takes great endurance and loads of practice. Challenge yourselves to better communication.

When we search for facts and not faults, when we are brave enough to put down our defensiveness and strive to understand, we have the opportunity to not only learn about one another’s thoughts and feelings, but also to find common ground, gain intimacy, experience empathy, and build a path forward.