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Do You Respect Your Spouse's Approach?

March 4, 2015  | 
Do You Respect Your Spouse’s Approach? by Clare Piro

{2:50 minutes to read}  We all approach situations differently. Some, when confronted with a problem will attack it in a logical, methodical fashion, with the goal of getting it resolved in the quickest and most economical way. Others will see even a minor crisis as an impossible situation that can only be remedied by spending a lot of time complaining about it, and a lot of money needlessly. Often, these same people are married to one another.

In a real emergency, where health or safety is an issue, my husband is definitely the person I want to have around. He resonates calm but also takes charge and knows exactly what to do. In situations not so dire, though, his conduct is strikingly different. His first reaction is that it’s a disaster of epic proportions, and he immediately predicts the worst-case scenario.  

True to the theory that opposites attract, I am in the more methodical camp for minor problems. And while I don’t panic or become ineffective in a true emergency, I will freely admit that he does much better than I in those situations.

So, like most couples, we work well together as a team and appreciate the other’s strengths and weaknesses. We make jokes about our differences, but we don’t get angry at the other person for approaching a problem differently.

Couples in Crisis

With a couple who is not in a healthy relationship, and who is in conflict or going through a divorce, there is much less recognition of the other’s strengths and much more focus on their weaknesses. Behavior that previously was acceptable is now at best irritating and at worst intolerable.

In mediation, I’ve seen this play out both ways, and clearly, parties who accept and work with the other’s need to either take things more slowly, have things explained more than once or even chart out a plan tend to get through the process and have a much easier time. Those who are constantly exasperated at his or her spouse reacting in the very same way that they have always acted when confronted with a problem make the process that much more difficult.

As a mediator, I try to acknowledge how each party needs to work through an issue, whether it is with a step-by-step plan, recognition of how scary the prospect of setting up a separate household can be, or someone who always sees the worst-case scenario.

With a party in conflict, I try to recognize:

  • That for someone who is more prone to panic, the idea of getting an apartment within even what you see as a reasonable time frame can be insurmountable.

  • The fear that is behind inertia and talk about the process step by step.

  • The need to have answers to all the questions and concerns.

  • That this is who they have always been, and they’re not doing this because they want to annoy me or their spouse.

Whether you are the planner, the worrier, the excitable, the panicked, the bewildered or the methodical, try to respect and accept your partner’s approach for what it is. You will find the path a bit easier to navigate.

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Attorney & Mediator
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Harrison, NY 10528
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Comments
Maryann M
April 10, 2015 - 7:35 AM
The personality types described in this article ring true. During crisis it is difficult to stop, breathe and recognize the strength, wisdom or insecurity that drive our partners. Mediation is the perfect referee. A calm voice between opposite corners is sometimes all we need to give assurance that the situation is controllable. It's like having a "grown up" in the room.

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