Monday, November 17, 2008

Disagreements and attachments

PF ruminates:

There is really no way to go through life interacting with others and not reach a place where a difference of opinion happens. PG and I have our time-honored ways to argue, and S and I are still finding our way through that morass of fun-ness. Not that we have a high-conflict household, by any measure. Still, I think the good part is that none of us is so afraid of conflict that we won't bring a problem up.

One of the advantages of having a third partner around isn't that they referee for the other two, but it does help to get an additional perspective on when I am being an ass, if I haven't picked that up on my own. ;) Particularly of help is when S tells me that I am falling into long-term patterning too much in the way that I interact with PG. When you are having the _same_ minor issue crop up for the 50th time, it can feel more frustrating and/or bigger than it actually is. Our usual patient approach and clear communication can get muddled, since we've been having this same conversation since before we developed a lot of those skills. It helps to have someone else present that can say: You wouldn't be approaching this the same way if it were anyone else.

That's always been something I've found abhorrent: When people treat their family members and loved ones worse than they ever would a co-worker or friend. Being able to recognize when you are losing perspective and change your approach to a more compassionate and loving one is a great skill to develop!

On to attachments! So, our new rug throws off a lot of lint. We've pretty well trashed both of the vacuum cleaners that we moved in with already. S and I went shopping and brought one home as a trial model. It works pretty well, looks pretty sexy for a vacuum cleaner, and has lots of attachments. One of the attachments is specifically for bare floors. We have some hardwoods in our downstairs, and while we were trying out the vacuum, S asked me to use the bare floor attachment. I refused, on the grounds that I didn't think I'd use it generally, so wanted to make sure the main attachment would handle things on both carpet and hardwoods. He expressed that it would feel better to him if I would, since it would be less apt to scratch. I did it my way. Folded a load of laundry. Thought about it, and decided I was being silly. The minute it would take to switch attachments certainly wouldn't hurt me, and it would make him feel better about the vacuuming process.

Having decided to give in on the point, I approached S and said I was wrong, and I would be using the preferred attachment in the future, since it was important to him, and it's important to me that he felt listened to. He launched into a spiel about how irritated he was with my initial response, and various other frustrations, which I listened to quietly. Then I said he was right, I was wrong to blow him off at first, and that I would try to do better in the future. He just sort of sat there a minute, then realized how hard it is to have an argument with someone who'd given in before you were able to toss the first volley. Moments like that help me to realize how different most people's experience of a disagreement is from what usually happens around here. There is a certain amount of pride in being able to change course and not become ego-vested in the outcome. I hope to continue to do better for all my partners each day. They deserve the best from me, and I want to give it as often as I can.

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