We don’t know about you but we’ve noticed there are a lot of global issues that have instilled so much fear that are pitting one person against another.
We’ve also seen individual personal issues that create deep divisions where it seems like there’s no solution.
We’re making each other the enemy over these disagreements whether they’re about these global issues or particular to certain personal situations.
In our own family, we’ve seen these divisions and you may have as well.
This week, the two of us have been living with the question of whether it’s okay to agree to disagree and how to do that with love and not anger and resentment.
Here’s what we know…
Sometimes agreeing to disagree is your only option and what’s best in the moment because there doesn’t seem to be any solution or agreement possible.
Each of you is holding onto your point of view and not seeing anything beyond that.
This is life and these differences happen because we all have different ideas of how life should be lived.
But it’s what happens before, during and after the conversation that can make all the difference to the health of the relationship.
Here are a few ways to allow love to lead when you agree to disagree…
1. Intend connection
When you intend connection instead of fearing and bracing for the conflict that you think will follow…
The opportunity is there for deeper understanding.
A previous coaching client, Jan, was deeply upset that she and her new husband couldn’t talk about his adult kids.
She thought they “used” him, asking for money and favors and he seemed to jump to do whatever they requested.
Every time she tried to talk with him about it, they fought and he walked out of the room.
As we talked with Jan, she could see that she would initiate these “lectures” (because that’s what they were) with the intention of making him see that she was right.
He was being taken advantage of by his kids and she wanted him to know how wrong that was and how upset she felt.
When she saw that her attitude of “I’m right. You’re wrong” was coming between them…
She saw that when she had the intention of connecting with him, the atmosphere changed between them
2. Decide if this issue is a deal breaker or not
Sometimes when two people have such different beliefs and ways they want to live…
The level of trust and intimacy disappears and the relationship shifts.
You have to decide if this issue is a deal breaker or not.
As Jan looked at this situation with her husband and his kids, she saw that she very much wanted to have a life with him even if this kept happening.
Her previous husband had been an alcoholic who didn’t want to get help to change and it affected their life together.
That had finally been a “deal breaker situation” for her as she left that relationship after several years fighting the effects of it.
She knew what it felt like to “know” when something was a deal breaker or not.
In her heart, this issue with her current husband wasn’t.
You have to be the one who decides at what level you want to interact with this person if any and if it’s a deal breaker.
3. Look to where you can agree
When you’re open to finding common ground with this person over this issue and look for where you might agree…
Agreement and good feelings can surface when you least expect it.
So often when you think of this person, you only focus on where you disagree and the conflict.
We put people in boxes and when we see beyond that, new worlds of connection open up.
When you see that this person is more than this one issue where you don’t see eye-to-eye…
There is the opportunity to see how you can have a loving, more peaceful relationship.
When Jan realized that in her thinking, she’d put her husband in a “box” that said he was a push-over and weak…
She saw that her reactions to finding out what his kids had asked for next were over-the-top.
She saw that she somehow had been trying to “fix” him and get him to “man-up” when it was obvious that he didn’t want to see it her way.
When she saw that her reactions weren’t helping him and all they were doing was pushing him away…
She allowed her judgments of him and of the kids to calm down by taking her focus from them.
With the idea of connecting with him…
When the next opportunity came up, she asked him to help her understand what was behind him helping his daughter in this particular way.
When he saw Jan wasn’t judging him, he quietly explained how he’d felt guilty for years leaving them when they were young and he’d been trying to make up for it since then.
Although Jan still disagreed with him that this was a good strategy, she had compassion for him and his situation.
She saw that he had to forgive himself and that she couldn’t “fix” it for him.
As time went on, she found that as her resentment softened and her connection with her husband strengthened…
At times, he did say “no” to his kids requests.