It’s a moment that happens in every relationship.
You are exhausted after trying to convince your partner the merits of your side. You’re tired of butting heads over this one very sticky subject. You’re worried about the toll this lingering argument is taking on your ability to enjoy one another’s company.
You grit your teeth and propose to “agree to disagree” about this particular issue.
Sometimes that’s not such a big deal. If you two have been debating politics, movie reviews, sports or something else that doesn’t directly impact your daily lives, you can usually forge a sort of peace and accept this is as an area where you have opposing views.
It’s those other disagreements that put a chill in your relationship.
When you and the one you love realize that you have very different perspectives and priorities on issues that are core to your ethics and sense of morality, then it becomes far more difficult to “agree to disagree.”
It may even be impossible to do so genuinely.
Couples grapple with pornography, friendships with exes, parenting decisions, financial planning, how often to have sex and much more. When a disagreement comes up over and over again, it can erode trust, affection and shake the very core of your connection.
These types of quarrels don’t just “take care of themselves” and, instead, tend to intensify and become even more divisive over time. This is why people try to “agree to disagree” so that they can move on from the dispute. But when the issue remains unresolved, what mostly occurs is more tension, more resentment and more distance.
So before you speak these three words with a clenched jaw, do these 5 things…
1. Find out what it’s really about.
Dig deep and be honest with yourself if you’re firm on this issue because you want to be right, acknowledged or feel in control of a troubling situation. Get to the root of what this is really about for you and address those needs instead. Watch new solutions appear when you do.
2. Literally listen to your partner.
It’s probable that you are misunderstanding what your partner thinks or wants about this prickly topic. Back up and review what he or she has literally said about it. If you don’t know, ask. Listen with the intent to really hear your partner instead of trying to find holes in the argument or snappy come-backs.
3. Look for the overlap.
As you literally listen to your partner, you’re more likely to see that you two aren’t so far apart on this issue after all. Challenge yourself to find one thing you two DO agree on– even if it’s that you’re both ready to put the argument behind you and return to loving one another again. Use that as your starting point and build from there.
4. Create agreements you can live with.
Even if you aren’t able to ever see eye-to-eye on this issue, you can suggest conscious agreements that allow you to maintain (or regain) relationship trust and connection. Be specific when proposing an agreement and talk about how you both can get your needs met in observable ways.
For example: Texting with your ex is okay if you’re transparent about what was said. Watching porn is allowed if the one who finds it offensive isn’t around and you two are still making love regularly. The two of you will talk about potential purchases over $100 before they are made.
5. Expand your view with integrity.
What’s most important is that you act with integrity. As we’ve said, “agreeing to disagree” as a last-ditch effort for peace while you secretly remain angry is unhealthy and causes even more war in your relationship.
Be clear about your priorities around this issue and in general. Don’t sacrifice what’s sacred to you for the sake of your relationship, but don’t sacrifice your relationship because of pride and an impulse to be “right.”
Take a both/and approach which might mean stepping back for inner clarity first and then opening your mind in order to communicate more compassionately and effectively.
We can’t promise you that the perfect solution will instantly appear, but it’s reachable when you put in the effort and proceed with awareness and love.