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Note to Self: Don’t Wait for the Proper Message to Be Perfectly Phrased to Be Willing To Change

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I am a fan of Jordan Peterson, also of Richard Grannon. My wife can take a few minutes of Jordan, but as soon as he ham-handedly gets to a point she doesn’t like, she’s out. I understand where she’s coming from, but I’m not so afflicted. For instance, some people can’t accept the notion they’re “stupidly” bumbling about their relationships without keying in on the word “stupid” and shutting it down before getting to the good stuff in the message. I’ve always had good motives for how I’ve gone about things in our marriage, but there are some things I could have done a lot better…

Anyway, to the point. There are things Jordan Peterson says that I have to let pass under the bridge to get to the important points. For instance, he said in one of his lectures, paraphrasing, that here you are going about your life and your wife complains in good faith to you about something and you take offense to it. Here’s a person who is trying to help you get through the marriage less stupidly and you’re getting mad about her trying to help…

So, there’s a lot of stupid in there, right? That can be hard to take, but I see something more.

But the main point was life changing for me; my wife, while she may do so ham-handedly and clumsily, may actually have the best interest of the marriage at heart even if she tends to bring a bazooka to the party. What if I were to not accept the “attack” part of the negotiation but work with the deeper point my wife is trying to get at? What if I were actually able to articulate that? What if I, by rephrasing my wife’s point, by pointing out but discarding the anger, and looked at it as though my wife were trying to help me be a better husband? Why, that would completely change how we fight. Better, what if I stopped attacking my wife and instead tried to help her with a good-faith negotiation rather than the pulling out the battering ram and taking it to DEFCON 3 in all of an instant?

Another point Peterson made the same way was that we shouldn’t fight to win or to dominate our spouse, we should rather negotiate for peace so we can both win. If we fight to win, we may take the battle but we’ve just beaten our spouse who likely won’t take the defeat well and will likely think about how they can get even down the road. Worse, what if we’ve really verbally beaten our spouse in the process, I mean really taken them down and dominated them? How is that winning? The reality is, fighting like that is a really bad idea. It sure as hell isn’t love.

How much better would my marriage be if I learned to negotiate for peace instead of fight to win? If I’d have shut the video down for something I didn’t agree with, I’d have likely missed that.

Worse, being too picky about the messenger can also be a copout so we don’t have to look at ourselves seriously, and can instead continue to play the oppressed victim. Let that one percolate for a minute or two.

Friends, this is an exciting time for me – and the best part is it was completely unexpected.

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2 Comments

  1. “How much better would my marriage be if I learned to negotiate for peace instead of fight to win?”

    That sounds like a golden phrase there. It’s not something I’ve been very successful at in the past either! It’s even more difficult when my wife has been saying something that I don’t want to hear…

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