GAINING PERSPECTIVE ON AN ARGUMENT
15 minutes, several times a year for the formal practice. You can use perspective-taking skills whenever conflict arises with your partner.
HOW TO DO IT
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own heads when we argue with our partners. This exercise will help you gain some perspective on your feelings during conflict.
Think about a major disagreement you had with your partner in the past four months, and how much distress it’s still causing you. Then, follow these steps:
Think about this disagreement with your partner from the perspective of a neutral third party who wants the best for all involved, a person who sees things from a neutral point of view. How might this person think about the disagreement? How would he or she view your partner’s behaviors and perspective? How might he or she find the good that could come from it? (5 minutes)
Some people find it helpful to take this third-party perspective during their interactions with their romantic partner. However, almost everybody finds it challenging to take this third-party perspective at all times. In your relationship with your partner, what obstacles do you face in trying to take this third-partner perspective, especially when you’re having a disagreement? What might help you overcome them? For example, if you find yourself getting caught up in the heat of the moment, it might help to pause and take a deep breath. (5 minutes)
Despite the obstacles to taking a third-party perspective, people can be successful in doing so. Over the next four months, try your best to take this third-party perspective during interactions with your partner, especially during disagreements. How might you be most successful in taking this perspective in your interactions with your partner over the next four months? How might taking this perspective help you make the best of disagreements in your relationship? (5 minutes)
Allow these reflections to inform your interactions with your partner over the coming months.
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