Handling Problems


     "As lessons of love and opening your heart, we have emphasized that relationships naturally bring to light areas where you each are blocked to love. Often, the arising of such blocks can be seen as a sign that you have expanded to your next deepest level. So the occurrence of problems can be a testimony to progress! But of course they do not feel very good, and they can be difficult to work with.

     "Each time problems and challenges come in your relationship, you have the choice of how you will handle them. This is perhaps where it is most critical to choose the partnership approach. If you do not make your problem solving collaborative, it can easily become adversarial, competitive, or a means of building feelings of inequality between you. None of these is desirable in the end.

Face forward

     "There is a simple behavioral example that illustrates how to invoke a partnership approach to problems. When I have couples do this they almost instantly feel the shift and incorporate it. It even works just to imagine it. Think of this: you and your partner are having a difficulty and have begun to talk about it. You are sitting facing one another. Each has their own desires and opinions with regard to the matter. You have asked yourselves the question "how are we going to deal with this?" If you find yourselves cooperating, you each are trying to change your positions so they ultimately coincide. Sometimes you make efforts to influence the other's position, sometimes you release your position to adopt a new one. The process is often characterized by an underlying feeling of getting and giving, of you and them making exchanges. Here's the rub--it easily becomes your position versus their position, your ideas and desires in contrast to theirs. It's like two people trying to dance with both sometimes wanting to lead, and trying to figure out how to make that work. It easily lends itself to the feeling of you versus each other.

     "Now imagine you and your partner with the same difficulty, except you are sitting beside one another facing a large piece of paper. On the paper is written the issue. As you face toward it, you are asking yourselves the question "how are we going to deal with this?" It gives rise to the feeling that the two of you are joined, much like a team, in addressing the challenge represented by the challenge in front of you. You both take ownership for it and share responsibility for resolving it. The feeling of your partner sitting beside you is one of support, companionship, and collaboration. This is the feeling of partnership. If it helps, think of yourselves as members of a team, each with unique talents and skills that make the team more versatile and capable, and that you must decide how best to execute your next play."
 2000 Mark Shafer  

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