Couples: "The Goal of Marriage is Not to Think Alike, but to Think Together" | Couple's Net | Chandrama Anderson | Almanac Online |

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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Couples: "The Goal of Marriage is Not to Think Alike, but to Think Together"

Uploaded: Dec 27, 2018
I recently came across this quote comes from Robert Dodd, and it resonates in my work with couples.

We often select a partner that is different from us, yet complements us in a variety of ways. Over time, many couples find those very differences a source of friction in their relationship. If this resonates for you, don't worry; it's normal and human, and there are ways to deal with it.

Since this is a big topic, I'm going to write about it in a series, with this being the first installment.

Perhaps the most important thing is to accept that one of you is not right and the other is wrong. We may mistake communication as trying to change our partner's mind (thinking alike). Another way to look at this is to focus on your larger goal -- connection and intimacy. With this shift in your own desire and thinking, you have a chance to consider a new strategy in our conversation: understanding and creating a solution together (thinking together).

Once you've gotten past trying to convince your partner that your opinion is the right or only way, you can seek options that come from both of you. In order to do so, you need to deeply understand the meanings of each of your perspectives, and ultimately use those to strengthen your relationship.

How do you do that? You can become very curious about the other's view of life, and listen carefully (not just wait until it's your turn to talk). This shows that you're genuinely interested in your partner and how he or she ticks, and what is wanted and needed in relation to the topic at hand.

Ask open-ended questions:

What does that mean to you?
What are your hopes and concerns about [this topic?
Tell me more about that . . .
Go slowly in this process and dig deep in yourself for understanding. Avoid going for solutions and "fixes" too quickly (this tendency is to be expected; just name it, and keep seeking meaning).

You can learn to value, and yes, even promote those differences. You know from nature that variety leads to strength of a system. Thinking together may take more time up front, but ultimately the connection and intimacy you create together will more than make up for that.
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