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July 11, 2014
by Casey Truffo, LMFT

Agreeing to Disagree

July 11, 2014 04:55 by Casey Truffo, LMFT  [About the Author]

Keep It To Yourself

If you have been in an intimate relationship for any amount of time, you probably have several topics you have learned that you cannot talk about with your other half.  Maybe you and your best friend support opposite political parties or you and your spouse disagree on how much time each of you should spend with friends or participating in hobbies alone, such as fishing, traveling, or crocheting.

If you find yourself in similar situations, it is time to "agree to disagree".  This is not something that can or will happen overnight; it takes time and the commitment of both people in a relationship to want to work things out, knowing that your relationship is far more important than either of your opinions.

Where Can We Go From Here?

Disagreeing can feel very threatening and can lead you to feel that maybe the two of you need to move on and go your separate ways. Nothing is further from the truth.  The way to get through times of indifference with your other half is learning to agree to disagree on certain subjects.  Doing so will protect your relationship's harmony in situations where conflict may have occurred instead.  

Getting to the point where you both can agree to disagree, honestly--without remorse or sarcasm, takes a lot of time. You probably wonder why it would take years to reach this point.  If you totally disagree with your partner's standpoint on an issue and aren't afraid to say so, your partner may feel you are personally attacking them or trying to defeat them. Additionally, you may be giving signals that your opinion is more important than their opinion.  If this is how your partner perceives you, your partner may tend to defend themselves, make detrimental comments, or maybe even walk out on the conversation.  And the cycle continues.  Whenever certain subjects come up in conversation, either as a private conversation between the two of you or when you are among family and friends, you both may tend to throw arrows at each other and again say things you really don't mean.

Back up a few minutes.  This is your partner.  The one you chose to spend your life with, forever and ever. Throwing arrows?  Personally attacking the other?  Trying to defeat the other?  What is going on here?  What is happening is you and/or your partner are feeling completely frustrated, disconnected, betrayed, and disregarded.  

Here are some considerations on things to do to break the cycle and understand the positives of agreeing to disagree.

  • Communicate - Communication has an impact on every relationship we have and in every phase of life.  If communication is not working and verbal attacks or days of silence are present, our relationships will be further marred.  
  • Understand - Don't work towards avoiding silence or verbal arguments; instead, work towards better understanding your partner.  Be present for each other, every day.  Talk about anything and everything.  
  • Touch - The power of non-sexual contact with each other is of the utmost importance.  Hugs and kisses are the glue that holds relationships together.
  • Non-Verbal Communication - Be cognizant of non-verbal communication, which is also an important factor in relationships.  

It's Going To Take Work

Commit to talking about touchy topics, the ones you disagree on.  Work on these issues openly.  If your conversation goes south and turns into a huge argument, commit to getting back on track.  Do this by using "I" statements, rather than "you" statements.  Stay calm and try to respect your partner by listening to what he/she has to say.  Maintain eye contact to show you are really listening and are interested in what is being said.  Give positive responses, and skip the insults.  If either of you gets crazy or becomes irrational, take a break and calm down, but then agree to continue the discussion later.

Being aware of these things is only half of what it will take to master the skill of agreeing to disagree.  It takes practice, over and over again, until it is natural to listen to your partner and respect your partner's stance on issues, even when you don't agree with their stance.

Every relationship has ups and downs.  

No marriage is perfect, as is no friendship.  There will always be things that push our buttons about those most important in our lives. The challenge arises when you think enough of your other half to see past these things by agreeing to disagree.  Accept things your partner does or thinks, and require them to do the same for your actions and thoughts.  The secret lies in respect; respecting the differences that occur in your relationships.

If you are struggling with how to agree to disagree with your significant other, your best friend, your brother, your parent, or anyone else important in your life, contact the Relationship Center of Orange County for help.  Our staff is comprised of trained professionals that can help you achieve the results you are looking for in order for you to have awesome, long-lasting relationships.  Call our office today to at (949) 430-7389 to schedule an appointment or use our online scheduling tool to make your own.

About the Author

OC Relationship Center OC Relationship Center, LMFT

We started OC Relationship Center because we believe that relationships are the place where everyone should feel the safest and experience the most joy. And that is what our entire mission is based upon. That relationship may be with someone you love, live with, work with or even yourself. Our caring, professional and licensed clinicians want to help you with the skills to get what you want in your relationships - whether you are single, dating, living together, married, divorced or widowed.

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Newport Beach, California
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Phone: (949) 220-3211
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