Friday, October 3, 2008

Bringing Harmony to Discord


I once talked with a couple about their marriage. They completed personality “testing” and were discussing some differences that had frustrated them both over the years. I summarized some of those differences for them.

“You are sensitive,” I said to the husband. He nodded affirmatively. “You try to keep harmony in the relationship. It is important to you that you don’t have too much conflict, so you tend to give in often in order to keep the peace.” He agreed.

“You like affection and will often reach out and hold your wife’s hand for no reason at all.” He smiled and nodded.

“And you remember birthdays and special days – these are important to you.” He continued to smile and nod.

“And you particularly appreciate it when she says, ‘I love you.’ In fact, you need her to say that at least once a day.”

“EXACTLY!” he exclaimed with a broad smile, looking at his wife.

Then I spoke to her. “And you appreciate his sensitivity, but you tend to be more rational and logical.” She smiled and nodded.

“You can be more objective than he can about personal criticism and may sometimes be too blunt with him.” They both agreed.

“You like affection, but you don’t require it like he does. If you hold hands or not, that is unimportant to you.” She continued to nod.

“And you also appreciate the fact that he remembers those special days, but if he were to forget one, that would not upset you. In fact, you have to remember to say, ‘I love you’ to him, not because you don’t love him, but because saying it is just something you don’t think about often.” She agreed, looking at her husband.

“Saying words like ‘I love you’ does not mean the same thing to you as it does to him. You know you love him. In fact, you looked into his eyes when you got married and said, ‘I love you’ and figured that, if you ever change your mind, you’ll let him know.”

“EXACTLY!” she exclaimed, with a smile.

They told me that the discussion helped them to simply understand one another and to accept themselves. Rather than trying to change the other to get their own needs met, they could more easily appreciate their differences and also appreciate themselves as they are.

They found harmony where there used to be discord.

We don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonize. The same is true with people.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: flickr.com/Jason Jacobs

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