The Secret of a Peaceful Relationship

Dialogue by Kit No Comments »

My Dear Kat,

The secret of a peaceful relationship is choosing to be in a peaceful relationship. This is how we are, and I am so grateful for it. We’ve talked much about this, and how it happens.  This is an attempt to pull it all together, or at least provide a starting framework.

No attacking
Each of these bullet points could be (and often has been!)  a complete post; I just wanted to get them all together in one place.

  • not attacking the other person
  • not blaming the other person
  • having no expectations
  • making no demands
  • not expecting the other person to be or do anything in particular
  • celebrating the other person’s differences rather than criticising them

No defending

  • not taking the other person’s words as an attack
  • not reacting defensively to the other person’s words or state

Speaking the truth

  • You have to say what is going on when it reaches your consciousness. Obviously some timing is involved; halfway through the board meeting isn’t an appropriate occasion, but concealment doesn’t work for two reasons: it inhibits you from speaking, and the other picks up on it. As an example, your intuition during the weeks before I proposed.
  • Another way to say this is “No secrets”. Many people think that white lies are acceptable, even within a relationship. I am very doubtful that they can exist and have no effect.

Listening with full attention
Even when the truth is being spoken, it has to be heard. There is a technique called active listening that involves paraphrasing the speaker’s words or emotions. I don’t do anything quite so formal, but instead, listen with full attention and treat it as a monologue. If I treat it as a dialogue, I lose attention as I compose a response. This is a distinct and conscious act, and (I think) the same experience as being present.

Trusting the other
For all of this to take place, you have to believe in the essential goodness of the other; you have to trust that there is no monster lurking in there ready to spring out. But if you believe that the majority of people are basically kind-hearted and well-intentioned, then this is your de facto position.  (This gets into my political belief that conservatives believe that evil lives in the heart of man, and liberals believe in the intrinsic goodness of people. So how do conservatives ever have a relationship? Maybe they divide the world into trusted and non-trusted.)

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