Put Your Issues on the Table so They Don’t Come Between You
When couples have troubles it’s easy to fall into a pattern of blaming one another and finger pointing. Each of you has the unconscious expectation that “If he’d only change how he talks (or doesn’t talk) to me,” “If he’d plan for retirement or balance the checkbook on time,” “If she’d just get dinner on the table or keep the kids quiet,” “If he’d accept my parents visiting every other weekend,” and so on, your relationship would be fine.
While there may be some element of truth in what you say when you’re upset and approach it this way you are:
- Blaming your partner, creating a fight or pushing them away
- Not taking responsibility for your part in the problematic communication
- Not viewing the issues as a joint venture to be dealt with together
If you are striving to be a Conscious Entrepreneurial Couple, learning to place your issues on your “partnering table” will keep disagreements from coming between you, or tearing you apart.
Practicing this mindset and using the “On The Table” tool challenges you to come up with solutions that satisfy not only you, but also both of you. This is a Win/Win perspective.
All Issues Go “On The Table”—Not Between You
When you blame your partner you create a wall between you that cuts off your connection and feelings of closeness. You’re no longer on the same team. You cannot work together to arrive at solutions.
Putting your disagreements between you polarizes you. It is like being adversaries or enemies—at opposite ends of a tug-o’-war rope. It may feel like a brick wall between you.
It means you must adopt a new perspective to partner. Put the issues on the table, so they do not blur your vision, or make you forget you are on the same team. Life is stressful enough without blocking out your partner and the lifeline of potential creative problem solving between you.
In Big Picture Partnering, all issues, desires, requests, differences, and disagreements go “on the table” rather than between you. All issues are viewed as simply life circumstances you can confidently address together by talking at the “partnering table.”
When you have the tools you work toward mutually satisfying solutions together because what affects one of you affects both of you.
What Goes “On The Table?”
Examples of things that go on your table include any misunderstandings or disagreements between you; also needs, want and desires about any aspect of you life.
These may include such things as differences in how each of you parent, how you’re going to manage the family schedule or finances, desires for your family’s happiness, or weekly squabbles over who should do the cooking or cleaning.
Stressors that impact you are also on your table. These may include the emotional and financial ramifications of a difficult boss causing anxiety over job security. It may include a friend’s breast or prostate cancer diagnosis causing you both to worry or grieve.
These are fun, future and creative ideas or plans for your future, or things like major moves of job changes.
For a full list of topics for your partnering table, refer to the full article.
• Household chores
• Holiday plans
• Individual time for exercise
• Couple dates
• Dates and time together
• Business concerns that affect the family
• Finances-long and short-term
• Time commitments
• Problematic friends
• Social activities
• Retirement plans and dreams
• And so on
Anything that is a current or future need, a difference or disagreement, a desire or dream should go on your partnering table.
Then the focus becomes “How shall we handle this together?”
Make Decisions That Satisfy
To make this shift, you need to adopt a Win/Win Mindset. This mindset plus using the partnering “table” for dealing with problems, needs or desires takes a bit of consistent practice to learn to do together.
You will become experts if you practice. And, next week I’ll give you the 3 Step “On The Table Formula” you can follow for successful resolution and decision-making outcomes.
In the meantime, here are some important questions to prepare your self for this new way of discussing and resolving differences:
1. Am I willing to give up my old habits and try a new way of making decisions together? What do I have to lose?
2. Am I willing to hear my partner’s thoughts and not get defensive? If I truly love him/her why would I not want to listen for understanding?
3. What are the costs to me, to my partner, my family and my business life if I’m NOT OPEN to working toward Win/Win solutions? What are the costs to our connection, our emotional and physical health, our finances, our ability to create a wonderful future together?
4. If you have children, what are the costs of them learning our current style of relating? Is this what I/we want to teach them?
5. Is this the legacy I want to leave?
Working together for win/wins is the mark of a true partnership. Once you master it you’ll feel fully supported and life will run more smoothly.
Make an agreement with yourself and with one another to reflect on this. Then spend some time talking about what you really desire together.
Next week I’ll show you how to talk through the 3 Step On The Table Formula.