Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work as a counsellor. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links above.
As a couple, there are bound to be times when you disagree. You are two individuals and it is natural that sometimes you will have different opinions. Some of your differences may be about “important” things like politics, or religion or schooling, some will be about more trivial things like how best to stack the dishwasher or which way round to hand the toilet paper. Some of your differences will be easy to live with, others may cause problems – and this has nothing to do with whether the differences are about “important” or “trivial” topics.
So, differences are often a source of conflict in a relationship, but they do not need to be. A common pattern is that each partner will try to convince the other that their point of view is the right one, or that their suggested course of action is significantly better in some way. Along with that goes that idea that if one of the couple is right, the other must be wrong. And if either partner feels that their partner always needs to be right, they can start to feel inferior – and the battle to be right can become intense and acrimonious. A power struggle can develop that can become much more significant than the question in hand, whether that be religion or the toilet paper.
So who is right? As a counsellor I sometimes find clients expect me to take sides, to make a judgment, and in that they are invariably disappointed. For though you may disagree fundamentally on many issues, it is still possible for both of you to be right! You are two different people, with different histories, different values and different experiences. Holding different opinions is natural and does not mean that one of you is wrong. Your individual opinions exist in the context of your different lives and are equally valid.
More than that, if you see yourself trying to persuade your partner round to your way of thinking, ask yourself why that is important to you. Is it in some way threatening to you if your partner has a different opinion? Is it important for you to be proved right? Why does this matter? Do you feel good if you win an argument with your partner? Does this say something about your own self-esteem?
Counselling can help you to think about why you argue and why your partner holds the views they do. It can help you to realise that if you were in their shoes you would be quite likely to hold the same opinions as they do. This understanding can lead to a new respect for your partner’s views and an ability to discuss difficult subjects openly and honestly to reach “win-win” solutions.
A successful relationship is not based on one partner being right and the other wrong, but on being able to understand each other’s point of view, and to negotiate good compromises.