The Right to Be Wrong

Our cul­ture is built for win­ners. Every­one else is a loser. Whose aim in life is to be a loser? Not me, cer­tainly, and I per­son­ally don’t know of any­one who has. So, what do we do in the game of win­ning? We try to be right as much as we pos­si­bly can. Even if we know we are wrong we will try to con­vince oth­ers that we are right, or we will look like losers. “Look­ing good” is impor­tant. It projects a win­ner.  And I don’t mean just looks, but a gen­eral per­cep­tion of oth­ers that we are “in the know,” that we are always right, that we know what we are talk­ing about, that our judg­ments are cor­rect. We want to be trust­wor­thy and reli­able. We want to be RIGHT. We expect that oth­ers want to be right too and we “know” that if we admit that we are wrong oth­ers will not only gloat, make us look bad, lose respect for us, but also take advan­tage of us in every way possible.

All these attempts at being right are masks to hide behind in order to look good, but being always right is an impos­si­ble task to accom­plish. Suc­cess­ful peo­ple in busi­ness and in rela­tion­ships (busi­ness is made of rela­tion­ships like most any other action in life) have made dis­pro­por­tion­ally more mis­takes and have been many times more wrong than right.

The road to suc­cess is paved with failures.

One of the main com­plaints in unsuc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships is “we fight a lot.” Why do peo­ple fight? You guessed it: each per­son keeps insist­ing they are right by furi­ously jus­ti­fy­ing their posi­tion, by mak­ing their part­ner wrong and inval­i­dat­ing their partner’s point of view in order to win an argu­ment, so as not to be per­ceived as a “loser”. This down­ward spi­ral causes ver­tigo from which it is hard to recover.

So how do win­ners deal with los­ing, with being wrong and recover from their mistakes?

The rule of thumb is: the more insis­tent, sig­nif­i­cant and seri­ous you are about being right the more dif­fi­cult it is to recover, which implies that the more will­ing you are to admit, or could be wrong, and the sooner you can do it, the eas­ier it is to stop the down­ward spi­ral into rela­tion­ship dis­in­te­gra­tion. If you screw up a lot, you would even have to use that dreaded action to pub­li­cally or for­mally APOLOGIZE, which most peo­ple avoid like the plague.

I like to say that your rela­tion­ship is as good as your last conversation.

My inten­tion in this arti­cle is to uncover the lunacy of spend­ing our ener­gies, and indeed our lives, try­ing to be right about every­thing. Only peo­ple with low self-esteem and a low opin­ion of them­selves insist on being right all the time in a futile attempt to hide their inse­cu­ri­ties. If you are one of those peo­ple I sug­gest that you start doing exactly the oppo­site. Start being authen­tic. Stop hid­ing behind your right­eous­ness. Oth­ers will admire you for your courage, which most likely they them­selves do not have.  Peo­ple want to be right for fear of not being accepted, being shunned, rejected, not respected and, of course, not loved, when in fact the result is quite opposite.

This is how we “intu­itively” react to sit­u­a­tions when the right actions may be quite counter-intuitive: Most of our behav­ior is con­ducted from our rep­til­ian brain, our fight or flight instinct. We some­how uncon­sciously equate a chal­leng­ing con­ver­sa­tion with an encounter with a saber-tooth tiger. This brain, which has direct access to the emo­tional cen­ter (the amyg­dala), decides our actions. Becom­ing aware of what is REALLY hap­pen­ing, i.e., pro­cess­ing it through your con­scious mind (the neo-cortex), will uncover other pos­si­bil­i­ties and oppor­tu­ni­ties to “sur­vive” a con­ver­sa­tion with­out the knee-jerk reac­tion of hav­ing to be right.

In con­clu­sion: enjoy being wrong. You might as well, because most of the time you are. Con­sider that your beliefs are just that: YOUR beliefs, not nec­es­sar­ily facts. Allow oth­ers to have theirs. The world is not made to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Be gra­cious with oth­ers by allow­ing them to be wrong with­out beat­ing them up about it and mak­ing them wrong about being wrong. In other words, stop being right about their being wrong. If not imme­di­ately, but soon, they will start to rec­i­p­ro­cate, which ulti­mately leads to a great rela­tion­ship where each of you can be com­pletely authen­tic, and have the free­dom to be yourself.

To have a great rela­tion­ship you must give up the right to be right. Be a winner!

Good luck.


How To Make Your Man Happy

After I say, “Give him sex when­ever he wants it,” I prob­a­bly have noth­ing else to add. But WAIT, there is a lit­tle more to it although not nearly as much as a woman* would require for her happiness.

The nat­ural instinct of men* is to “dom­i­nate.” That’s where it all starts. Men want to be deci­sion mak­ers and in charge, although the real­ity is that women always are. Men just don’t know it on a con­scious level. If you do not han­dle it right your man may become either openly or pas­sively aggres­sive. He is phys­i­cally stronger and his last resort is to use force. Be that as it may, you need to play a woman’s game. You are a woman; you should instinc­tively know how to do it. Play­ing a power game with a man is not a good idea.

Let him be in charge

So, to make your man happy you need to give him the illu­sion that he is in charge. This should be very easy to do because men LOVE help­ing women and solv­ing prob­lems. (Have you noticed how men are not so good at just lis­ten­ing? Men offer you solu­tions and help when you don’t even need it nor ask for it.) Start appre­ci­at­ing his enthu­si­asm and sense of respon­si­bil­ity for your prob­lems as well as his eager­ness to help you solve them. That’s how he expresses his love. He does not nec­es­sar­ily want to “fix” you. He owns your problems.

Men love and are proud of being able to pro­vide for and sup­port their woman, which can­not be said for women who really hate being the bread­win­ner of the family.

Give him his own space, phys­i­cal as well as mental

Phys­i­cally he needs his “cave,” his space where he can be undis­turbed doing his own thing. This may be a work­shop, garage, office, a den or a cor­ner in the home that he can call his own where he “reigns supreme.” He should be able to do what­ever he wants in that space: sort out his col­lec­tions, make some­thing, read, write, watch foot­ball, or just do nothing.

Men­tal space is also very impor­tant. It may come as a sur­prise to you but men often think of NOTHING. They need to do that occa­sion­ally. So do not force a con­ver­sa­tion if he does not want to have one NOW. He’ll come back to it when he is ready.

Learn to take what a man says at face value. He means what he says. Stop look­ing for hid­den mean­ings as to what comes out of his mouth. When he says that he is busy and can­not talk to you now, it does not mean that he does not love you. It means “he is busy and that he can­not talk to you now.”

Too sim­ple for you? Yes, that is the real­ity about men. They are VERY SIMPLE, for bet­ter or for worse. Also, men do not express their emo­tions as much as women do. Men can con­trol their thoughts and their feel­ings, but it does not mean that they do not have them. It is a 50,000 year-old sur­vival strat­egy. Try not to ques­tion it and make him into an overly sen­si­tive man. Do not try to turn him into a per­fect hairy woman. One, you will not suc­ceed, but if you do, he’ll change just to please you. Two, if you suc­ceed even par­tially, you will not like what you have.

Show respect

As much as women are about secu­rity, mostly emo­tional secu­rity that is, men are about respect. Notwith­stand­ing the fact that adults should earn respect and not be given it freely, there are some areas where your man will love you and respect you back if you show respect for his inter­ests and hob­bies, as well as sup­port him socially.

In other words, do not put down his inter­est in motor­cy­cles, his gun and knife col­lec­tion, cars, sports, or even bal­let. He loves his inter­ests and if you ask him why, he may even be eager to explain it to you at length and in detail, if you have the patience to lis­ten. If you do not respect his inter­ests he will with­draw, resent you, hide it from you etc., which obvi­ously would make him very unhappy.

If you respect him and are sup­port­ive of him in pub­lic, among friends and fam­ily, he will inter­pret it as the purest form of love on your part. “Praise in pub­lic, crit­i­cize in pri­vate,” as the adage goes.

If you want to per­pet­u­ate the attrac­tion in your rela­tion­ship, keep the gap between fem­i­nin­ity and mas­culin­ity as wide as pos­si­ble. If a woman adopts too many male char­ac­ter­is­tics and a man vice versa, the roles may reverse, attrac­tion will evap­o­rate to be replaced by either con­flict or indif­fer­ence. No one rel­ishes the prospects of this happening.

These are char­ac­ter­is­tics which apply to most men­tally healthy men. Of course, there are indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences, but do not assume that your man is so com­pletely dif­fer­ent that most of the above do not apply to him. If that is the case, he may be a woman, or he may be reluc­tant to exer­cise his “man­li­ness” with you. Con­sider that he may be try­ing to please you too much.

Good luck.

*Note: When I say a man and a woman, I mean male and female energy and nat­ural, genetic char­ac­ter­is­tics. (I talk about it at some length in The Game­less Rela­tion­ship.) Every human being has both char­ac­ter­is­tics. Men have more male and women have more female, and that can some­what vary from per­son to per­son and sit­u­a­tion to situation.



Peo­ple are very open-minded about new things…

as long as they’re exactly like the old ones!

—Charles Ket­ter­ing


Open-mindedness is the will­ing­ness to search actively for evi­dence against one’s favored beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evi­dence fairly when it is available.

Being open-minded does not imply that one is inde­ci­sive, wishy-washy, or inca­pable of think­ing for one’s self. After con­sid­er­ing var­i­ous alter­na­tives, an open-minded per­son can take a firm stand on a posi­tion and act accordingly.

The oppo­site of open-mindedness is what is called the myside bias which refers to the per­va­sive ten­dency to search for evi­dence and eval­u­ate evi­dence in a way that favors your ini­tial beliefs. Most peo­ple show myside bias, but some are more biased than others.

Ben­e­fits of Open-Mindedness

Research sug­gests the fol­low­ing ben­e­fits of open-mindedness:

  • Open-minded, cog­ni­tively com­plex indi­vid­u­als are less swayed by sin­gu­lar events and are more resis­tant to sug­ges­tion and manipulation.
  • Open-minded indi­vid­u­als are bet­ter able to pre­dict how oth­ers will behave and are less prone to projection.
  • Open-minded indi­vid­u­als tend to score bet­ter on tests of gen­eral cog­ni­tive abil­ity like the SAT or an IQ test. (Of course we don’t know whether being open-minded makes one smarter or vice versa.)

Open-Mindedness as a “Cor­rec­tive Virtue”

Social and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists have noted wide­spread errors in judgment/thinking to which we are all vul­ner­a­ble. In order to be open-minded, we have to work against these basic ten­den­cies, lead­ing virtue ethi­cists to call open-mindedness a cor­rec­tive virtue.

In addi­tion to the myside bias described above, here are three other cog­ni­tive ten­den­cies that work against open-minded thinking:

1) Selec­tive Exposure

We main­tain our beliefs by selec­tively expos­ing our­selves to infor­ma­tion that we already know is likely to sup­port those beliefs. Lib­er­als tend to read lib­eral news­pa­pers, and Con­ser­v­a­tives tend to read con­ser­v­a­tive newspapers.

2) Pri­macy Effects

The evi­dence that comes first mat­ters more than evi­dence pre­sented later. Trial lawyers are very aware of this phe­nom­e­non. Once jurors form a belief, that belief becomes resis­tant to counterevidence.

3) Polar­iza­tion

We tend to be less crit­i­cal of evi­dence that sup­ports our beliefs than evi­dence that runs counter to our beliefs. In an inter­est­ing exper­i­ment that demon­strates this phe­nom­e­non, researchers pre­sented indi­vid­u­als with mixed evi­dence on the effec­tive­ness of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment on reduc­ing crime. Even though the evi­dence on both sides of the issue was per­fectly bal­anced, indi­vid­u­als became stronger in their ini­tial posi­tion for or against cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. They rated evi­dence that sup­ported their ini­tial belief as more con­vinc­ing, and they found flaws more eas­ily in the evi­dence that coun­tered their ini­tial beliefs.

What Encour­ages Open-Mindedness?

Research sug­gests that peo­ple are more likely to be open-minded when they are not under time pres­sure. (Our gut reac­tions aren’t always the most accurate.)

Indi­vid­u­als are more likely to be open-minded when they believe they are mak­ing an impor­tant deci­sion. (This is when we start mak­ing lists of pros and cons, seek­ing the per­spec­tives of oth­ers, etc.)

Some research sug­gests that the way in which an idea is pre­sented can affect how open-minded some­one is when con­sid­er­ing it. For exam­ple, a typ­i­cal method of assess­ing open-mindedness in the lab­o­ra­tory is to ask a par­tic­i­pant to list argu­ments on both sides of a com­pli­cated issue (e.g., the death penalty, abor­tion, ani­mal test­ing). What typ­i­cally hap­pens is that indi­vid­u­als are able to list far more argu­ments on their favored side. How­ever, if the researcher then encour­ages the par­tic­i­pant to come up with more argu­ments on the oppos­ing side, most peo­ple are able to do so with­out too much dif­fi­culty. It seems that indi­vid­u­als have these counter-arguments stored in mem­ory but they don’t draw on them when first asked.

Exer­cises to Build Open-Mindedness

In my read­ings, I did not uncover any open-mindedness inter­ven­tions. But in the spirit of creativity/originality I con­sulted Cather­ine Freemire, LCSW [Cather­ine Freemire, LCSW, Bal­anced Life Coach­ing, ], a clin­i­cal ther­a­pist and pro­fes­sional coach renowned for her cre­ative think­ing. She came up with three exer­cises for build­ing open-mindedness which I think are def­i­nitely worth trying:

Select an emo­tion­ally charged, debat­able topic (e.g., abor­tion, prayer in school, health­care reform, the cur­rent war in Iraq) and take the oppo­site side from your own. Write five valid rea­sons to sup­port this view. (While typ­ing Catherine’s idea, I had a related one of my own: If you are con­ser­v­a­tive in your polit­i­cal beliefs, lis­ten to Al Frankin’s radio show; if you are lib­eral, lis­ten to Rush Lim­baugh! While you are lis­ten­ing, try to avoid the cog­ni­tive error of polar­iza­tion described above.)

1. Remem­ber a time when you were wronged by some­one in the past. Gen­er­ate three plau­si­ble rea­sons why this per­son inad­ver­tently or inten­tion­ally wronged you.

2. This one is for par­ents: Think of a topic that you con­sis­tently argue about with your teen or grown child. Now, take their posi­tion and think of 3 sub­stan­tial rea­sons why their point of view is valid. (This could also be done with spouses or any fam­ily mem­bers for that matter!)

© 2004 Authen­tic Hap­pi­ness Coach­ing. All rights reserved.


Don’t Tell Me What To Do!

When I was about 17, my par­ents strongly objected to some of my friends. Yes, they were my friends and my par­ents didn’t know them nearly as well as I did oth­er­wise they would have agreed with my point of view. The more they protested about my spend­ing time with them the more time I invested into our friend­ship. To tell the truth – and after all these years I can – even then I intu­itively knew that they were right, but there was no way that I would ever do what they told me to do. My eager­ness and need to be right and the power of mak­ing my own deci­sions was sim­ply over­whelm­ing. Sure enough, most of those friends turned out either not to be such good friends as I imag­ined. Sev­eral of them became alco­holics, or ended up in jail. And, yes, I admit my par­ents were right. They knew what was good for me and they acted as respon­si­ble par­ents to the best of their abilities.

No-one-tells-me-what-to-do atti­tude is per­fectly nor­mal for teenagers any­where. Their need to break away from their par­ents’ influ­ence and prove them­selves as able to be suc­cess­ful and respon­si­ble in the “real world”, is healthy and nec­es­sary behav­ior for the devel­op­ment of a healthy psy­che. But as we mature this atti­tude may present a sig­nif­i­cant bar­rier to healthy rela­tion­ships and a happy life.

First, this kind of rebel behav­ior may result in push­ing away any­one who comes close to you. This is how it usu­ally works: You know from your own expe­ri­ence that it is very easy for you to see when oth­ers are about to do some­thing that will not serve them well. If that per­son is a stranger or just an acquain­tance you most likely will not open your mouth to stop them. But, if it is some­one you care about, you will do your utmost to point out the fal­lacy of his/her intended actions. So, when­ever you become resis­tant to the sug­ges­tions of the peo­ple who care about you, you are jump­ing into don’t-tell-me-what-to-do modus operandi. In other words, you are digress­ing into a teenager. I cer­tainly do not pro­pose that you should accept all rec­om­men­da­tions from every­one who cares about you. What I am sug­gest­ing is open­ness to the pos­si­bil­ity and will­ing­ness to con­sider other points of view.

This kind of resis­tance to do what peo­ple ask you to do (or not to do) is a sign of inse­cu­rity, low self-esteem, infe­ri­or­ity com­plex and such. The more often you exer­cise your “right” to do what you want, the more you alien­ate peo­ple around you and more you push your­self in the direc­tion of inse­cu­rity and low self-esteem. Choos­ing not to do what peo­ple ask you to do is just as much a free choice as accept­ing other people’s requests and sug­ges­tions. You have right to change your mind. The choice is always yours. Be respon­si­ble for it. By refus­ing other people’s requests because you did not gen­er­ate the idea, and think­ing that some­how by accept­ing it you will lose power, is a vic­tim behav­ior. The choice is always yours no mat­ter which way you go. In fact, by accept­ing, or at least con­sid­er­ing and being will­ing to dis­cuss it in order to learn more about other people’s point of view, you show gen­eros­ity, trust, respect, under­stand­ing and secu­rity in your own beliefs. Para­dox­i­cally, the more you are open to the pos­si­bil­ity of chang­ing your mind the more you gain self-esteem. Most cul­tures teach us that chang­ing your mind under any cir­cum­stances makes you a per­son of a weak char­ac­ter, wishy-washy and less respected by oth­ers. Con­sider the fol­low­ing: you decide to do some­thing against other’s rec­om­men­da­tion, and you fail. Who do you blame? Your­self, of course (low esteem). Do you learn from the expe­ri­ence? No, you don’t. You vow that you’ll do it bet­ter the next time using the same strat­egy of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do vari­ety. Do you give credit to the per­son who sug­gested oth­er­wise? No, you resent him/her even more. What hap­pens if you suc­ceed? Do you give your­self credit? Rarely. It’s just you. You just made a good choice. That’s it. You were lucky this time (low self-esteem). Your rela­tion­ship with that per­son worsens.

Now con­sider that you take some­one else’s advice. If you fail, what do you think? You see, I told you so. I should have done it my way. (Higher opin­ion of your­self.) If you suc­ceed, you will be grate­ful to him/her and you will praise your­self for mak­ing a good choice of accept­ing the sug­ges­tion and exe­cut­ing it (high self-esteem). Your rela­tion­ship with that per­son will become stronger.

So, yes, just as you have right do to what you want to do, no mat­ter what advice you get, you also absolutely have right to change your mind to your ben­e­fit and take other people’s advice. These are the two equal sides of the same coin.

Again, by all means, you should NOT go around doing what every­one tells you to do (low self-esteem), but being able to make a sound choice free of the bag­gage from the past, or emo­tions that may pop up unbid­den at those moments of deci­sion. Some­times even “blind trust”, although nor­mally regarded as irre­spon­si­ble, is accept­able. Think of pro­fes­sional advi­sors, teacher, friends and oth­ers that you trusted blindly, maybe with mixed results, which, by the way, will always be mixed, i.e., we will always make occa­sional mis­takes whether we do what we want, or if we lis­ten to other’s advice. Mis­takes are a part of life. Learn to live with them. But at least with the absence of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do atti­tude you will have hap­pier life, bet­ter rela­tion­ships and open end for self-growth and being a respon­si­ble wise adult instead of a per­pet­ual teenager.

Doing what oth­ers request from you, being a “yes” per­son, will pro­vide you with an oppor­tu­nity for ser­vice, whether it is gladly bring­ing your part­ner a cup of cof­fee*, or car­ing for the sick and elderly, or any­thing in between. We grow by serv­ing oth­ers. We serve our­selves by serv­ing oth­ers. We are social ani­mals. “Doing onto oth­ers what they want done to them­selves” is a higher motto for peace­ful rela­tion­ships and peace the world. It is an atti­tude of peace, not con­fronta­tion. It is about care, con­tri­bu­tion, pros­per­ity, effi­ciency, effec­tive­ness and self-growth from teenage-hood to adult­hood. Remem­ber the choice is always yours.

To be bound by our choices is not to have lost our freedom

but to have exer­cised it.”

Robert Brault


*See The Rela­tion­ship Saver: “Reverse the process”


Facts vs. Feelings

The more I learn about dif­fer­ences between men and women (or I should rather say fem­i­nine and mas­cu­line) the more I dis­cover the causes of mis­un­der­stand­ing and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tions that that are per­va­sive in man/woman rela­tion­ships. The fol­low­ing is a per­fect exam­ple how mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine per­ceive and inter­pret real­ity, which if under­stood and han­dled prop­erly can solve most of the rela­tionship prob­lems, but if unat­tended can eas­ily esca­late to a break-up or divorce.

Here is the exam­ple in the two cor­re­spon­dences that I received from Ali­son Arm­strong, a rela­tion­ship expert who I respect very much. (Her books, courses and CDs you can find in the right col­umn on this website.)

After read­ing this exam­ple try to see other occur­rences where gen­der dif­fer­ences, if under­stood prop­erly can save you a lot of grief in your relationship.

What doy think about this? Let us know.

Best regards,


Dear Radomir,

One of the things we dis­cov­ered years ago is that the Mas­cu­line mea­sures real­ity by trusted FACTs while the Fem­i­nine real­ity is cre­ated by her FEEL­INGs.  Both of these are com­pletely valid ways of see­ing the world.

An inter­est­ing and haz­ardous side effect, how­ever, is when you put these two real­i­ties in an auto­mo­bile together.  Let’s call the Mas­cu­line a “Man,” although this is not always true, and the Fem­i­nine a “Woman,” also not always true ~ but eas­ier to repeat over and over again.  He’s going to pay atten­tion to being Fac­tu­ally safe, while she can’t help but notice if she Feels safe.

Add to this the dif­fer­ence in eye­sight for men and women: He can track mov­ing objects way bet­ter than she can; she has a periph­eral vision that’s more sen­si­tive and prey-like than preda­tor ~ mean­ing she sees more threats.

This is how you have a woman full of ten­sion and poten­tially freak­ing out because he keeps chang­ing lanes.  Every time he moves the car to a lane on her side, it will look to her like cars on her side might hit her.  So she doesn’t Feel safe.  He may know fac­tu­ally that he hasn’t had an acci­dent in decades, that the car over on the other side wasn’t going to move, that the speed with which he slipped in that spot missed the other car by a mile… and so on.

Unfor­tu­nately, the Fact of her being safe will not make her Feel safe.  And a man’s great­est chal­lenge with women is mak­ing them FEEL SAFE.  Because every­thing good from a woman begins with her feel­ing safe ~ and every­thing nasty begins with her feel­ing unsafe.

I would love your com­ments and ques­tions related to this topic.  It’s worth exploring!



Thank you for your pro­found response to “Chang­ing Lanes.”  I’m thrilled that so many of you found insight, inspi­ra­tion, relief and, even, heal­ing, in a seem­ingly small thing that effects our time with the oppo­site sex in such a big way.

To con­tinue the dia­log: Since learn­ing about the effect of chang­ing lanes on my feel­ings of safety, Greg has mod­i­fied the way he dri­ves.  On a recent trip back from Ore­gon, he apol­o­gized for get­ting close to a semi-truck as he nego­ti­ated the hol­i­day traf­fic.  His apol­ogy was sweet but unnec­es­sary.  As I said to him, “Honey, chillin’ the cave­woman is a part­ner­ship.  I just reminded myself that, as a hunter, you track mov­ing objects much bet­ter than I do and the fact is you’ve never plowed me into the back of a truck!  So I calmed myself down.”

I tell you this because under­stand­ing our instincts and hav­ing a vic­tory of human spirit is some­thing we can all do.  On one end, it’s mak­ing an accom­mo­da­tion to not antag­o­nize another’s most prim­i­tive reac­tions.  On the other, it’s being respon­si­ble for hav­ing them and talk­ing your­self back down off the cliff edge.  Being will­ing to act from whichever end you’re on is a gift to our part­ners — and just plain smart.  Using the infor­ma­tion about our great­est weak­nesses and demand­ing solely the accom­mo­da­tion from our part­ners isn’t fair or in true partnership.

Speak­ing of part­ner­ship, I’m off to Col­orado for three weeks of bliss with some of my favorite two and four-legged part­ners.  PAX World News will return in Sep­tem­ber renewed.  Mean­while, Patrice will give you ample oppor­tu­ni­ties to lis­ten and watch the lat­est inter­views shar­ing my most recent trea­sures from the adven­tures of study­ing men, women and part­ner­ship.  Look for those emails from her in August.

Many bless­ings,




How To Make Your Woman Happy

Note: What fol­lows does not apply to ALL the women ALL the time, but in major­ity sit­u­a­tions it could be very use­ful and right on the mark.

I shall attempt to lay out as suc­cinctly as I can a guide to most com­mon issues we, men, need to deal with in our rela­tion­ships with our women. Too often we for­get that we are deal­ing with a “dif­fer­ent species” i.e. female Homo Sapi­ens and by default, if we want to be nice, we treat them the way we want to be treated. That’s what we have been told: “Do unto the oth­ers as you would have them do unto you.” Wrong! When deal­ing with the oppo­site sex, in fact with oth­ers in gen­eral, we should use the mod­i­fi­ca­tion of this rule:  “Do unto oth­ers as they would have it done to them­selves”. In other word treat oth­ers as they want to be treated.

Well, the prob­lem arises when you have no idea how oth­ers (women) want to be treated. Espe­cially when it changes all the time depend­ing on cir­cum­stances and on con­stantly chang­ing feel­ings that women are so good at. Men are cer­tainly dis­ad­van­taged in this area. The best we can do is to become good at a guess­ing game. So often we find our­selves with a foot in our mouth not under­stand­ing what hap­pened and how we got there, although we treated our very much loved woman exactly the way we would want to be treated.

Here I will try to out­line some “rules” that will keep your foot where it belongs, on the floor.

Since this arti­cle is aimed at men I will deal with this issue in bul­let points. Here are some of the basic rules when deal­ing with a woman we love:

• First and fore­most: take full respon­si­bil­ity for what comes out of your mouth as well as how you choose to inter­pret what you hear.

• Reas­sur­ance. Our women need to be told that we love them. We erro­neously think that our actions like work­ing and pro­vid­ing for the fam­ily clearly com­mu­ni­cates our love for her. We often think that the more we work the stronger is the mes­sage of our love. Wrong again. Noth­ing can sub­sti­tute look­ing in her eyes and telling her: “I love you.”

• Emo­tions. Women emote very dif­fer­ently then we do. A woman hav­ing a dif­fused focus as opposed to single-focus of us, men, can­not con­trol what thoughts come into their head. Thoughts trig­ger emo­tions and we men find our­selves in trou­ble, not know­ing what hit us. There is no logic and no con­nec­tion to the present sit­u­a­tion. We can­not con­nect dots and We start ask­ing our­selves what did we do wrong. Most likely noth­ing. Feel­ings some­times go ram­pant in a woman. She can­not con­trol it. She can­not choose  what to think about. Say­ing “Don’t think about it”  does not help. Try to close the issue by resolv­ing the con­cern. Of course you need to find out what the real con­cern is and that may take some doing.

• Secu­rity. Again we think that the most impor­tant thing for a woman is that she feels finan­cially secure. That’s why, as I men­tioned before, you do your best to pro­vide for her. That’s awfully nice of you, but you may be bark­ing up a wrong tree. What she really wants much more than “money and things” is emo­tional secu­rity. This means that she can count on you to always be there for her and that she can count on you to be her best friend.

• Lis­ten­ing. We men lis­ten for a prob­lems and look for solu­tions. We also lis­ten for the point of the con­ver­sa­tion. We have no patience to lis­ten to a chrono­log­i­cal unfold­ing of a story with­out know­ing were it is going. As soon as our loved one tells us that she has a prob­lem, we are think­ing how to fix it. Wrong! Your women is quite able most of the time to fix the prob­lem her­self. If she can­not she will ask you for help. You need to trust that. What she wants from you is to lis­ten to her and acknowl­edge how she feels about it, because her feel­ings are the prob­lem that she needs to com­mu­ni­cate to you. Once you know that, it becomes easy (or not) to just lis­ten and not offer your solu­tions because there are none. She is deal­ing with her feel­ings which she has no con­trol over. So, next time she comes to you with a prob­lem, do not lis­ten to her prob­lem, lis­ten for her feel­ings. Do not offer help, wait to be asked for it, or ask if she wants your help.

• Sex. We men are very vain. When our woman does not want to have sex with us, we take it per­son­ally. Sex is our pri­mary drive in rela­tion­ship with a woman. Not so for them. In fact once you under­stand that woman’s “warm-up time” is much longer than ours and that she needs to be fore­warned so that she can antic­i­pate it, things become much eas­ier. It’s not about you. Women are wired dif­fer­ently and for a good rea­son. (I’m not going to go into it here.) Very often she just wants to be close to you, to snug­gle and be cud­dled. Of course, when­ever that hap­pens you think about sex. Hold your horses, not so fast! It DOES NOT mean that she wants sex. If you insist on it every time she comes close to you, she will start avoid­ing you. You scare her off. Take it easy, take your time. Once she gets into it, she WILL enjoy it as much, or maybe even more than you do, but patience is an oper­a­tive word.

• Beauty. A woman asks a man: “Does this dress make me look fat?” Man: “No, your fat makes you look fat.” Baaaaad move. That’s how you can talk to other man friends and not to a woman, because women are dif­fer­ent species. They will never inter­pret it as a joke, or just take it as plain truth. Remem­ber, it’s all about feel­ings. Her inter­pre­ta­tion would be …. well, make up your own. Women want us to find them attrac­tive. They want to be looked at and we, men want to look. Per­fect match! She has a deep need to know that she is beau­ti­ful for YOU. When she asks you how she looks do not say, just fine. Cul­tural pres­sure to look beau­ti­ful is great and it can hardly be avoided. So, tell her often and hon­estly that she is beau­ti­ful. You do not have to use exactly that word, but there are so many oth­ers and other ways to say the same thing. Be cre­ative.
These are just some of the points that we men often are not aware of, or sim­ply do not bother to prac­tice them. Try them, they work. Ask your women.

(Next arti­cle will be for women about men)

Let us know your thoughts and expe­ri­ences about this from both men and women.




Maintaining A Healthy Relationship

The fol­low­ing arti­cle describes what I have sus­pected for a long time and writ­ten about in one of my pre­vi­ous posts. We think that we should know how to man­age our rela­tion­ships and thus are very resis­tant to look­ing for help until it is often too late.

Smart busi­nesses invest in adver­tis­ing and devel­op­ment in the peri­ods of their pros­per­ity. We also invest on a per­sonal level when, as is men­tioned in the arti­cle below, we go to the den­tist for a check up. We do not wait for our teeth to decay first.

The New York Times Arti­cle, Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife by TARA PARKER-POPE is about research by psy­chol­o­gists in the topic of rela­tion­ship main­te­nance. Since I am a coach and author, here I’d like to point out that there is a dif­fer­ence between coach­ing and psychology.

Coach­ing is only for men­tally healthy peo­ple and it is mostly ori­ented towards future actions. We do not delve into the the past and “fix” things, we cre­ate the future. If we notice that there may be some deeper issues that need ther­apy, we would refer our clients to a therapist.

Since psy­chother­apy in this coun­try is a busi­ness, and it could be a very prof­itable one, I think that too many healthy peo­ple are made to think that they need ther­apy or coun­sel­ing (which is also mostly done by ther­a­pists) in order to be able to repair their relationship.

This is by no means intended to bash psy­chother­a­pists. After all, my daugh­ter will be one very soon. There are many cases where ther­apy best be used, but I have seen many peo­ple go to ther­apy as a default option when a lit­tle healthy coach­ing can make all the dif­fer­ence in the world. Ther­apy can be expen­sive, where just a few insights into the core prin­ci­ples of a suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships may cause all the change that you want in your relationship .

All this said, here is the link to this excel­lent arti­cle by Tara Parker-Pope that was sent to me by my friend Anabela Enes:

JUNE 28, 2010, 5:17 PM
Seek­ing to Pre-empt Mar­i­tal Strife
Stu­art Brad­ford Does your mar­riage need ther­apy? If you’re like most peo­ple, the cor­rect answer may well be yes, but your answer is prob­a­bly no.
In most mar­riages, one or both part­ners resist the idea of coun­sel­ing. Some can’t afford it, or find it incon­ve­nient. And many view ther­apy as a last resort — some­thing only des­per­ate cou­ples need. Only 19 per­cent of cur­rently mar­ried cou­ples have taken part in mar­riage coun­sel­ing; a recent study of divorc­ing cou­ples found that nearly two-thirds never sought coun­sel­ing before decid­ing to end the rela­tion­ship.
“It seems like we’re even more resis­tant to think­ing about get­ting help for our rela­tion­ship than we are for depres­sion or anx­i­ety,” said Brian D. Doss, an assis­tant psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Miami. “There’s a strong dis­in­cen­tive to think about your rela­tion­ship as being in trou­ble — that’s almost admit­ting fail­ure by admit­ting that some­thing isn’t right.”
Mar­riage coun­sel­ing does not always work, of course — per­haps because it is so often delayed past the point of no return. One recent study of two types of ther­apy found that only about half the cou­ples reported long-lasting improve­ments in their mar­riages.
So researchers have begun look­ing for ways (some of them online) to reach cou­ples before a mar­riage goes off the rails.
One fed­er­ally financed study is track­ing 217 cou­ples tak­ing part in an annual “mar­riage checkup” that essen­tially offers pre­ven­tive care, like an annual phys­i­cal or a den­tal exam.
“You don’t wait to see the den­tist until some­thing hurts — you go for check­ups on a reg­u­lar basis,” said James V. Cór­dova, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy at Clark Uni­ver­sity in Worces­ter, Mass., who wrote “The Mar­riage Checkup” (Jason Aron­son, 2009). “That’s the model we’re test­ing. If peo­ple were to bring their mar­riages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that pro­vide the same sort of ben­e­fit that a phys­i­cal health checkup would pro­vide?”
Although Dr. Cór­dova and col­leagues are still tal­ly­ing the data, pre­lim­i­nary find­ings show that cou­ples who take part in the pro­gram do expe­ri­ence improve­ments in mar­i­tal qual­ity. By work­ing with cou­ples before they are unhappy, the checkup iden­ti­fies poten­tially “cor­ro­sive” behav­iors and helps cou­ples make small changes in com­mu­ni­ca­tion style before their prob­lems spi­ral out of con­trol. (Typ­i­cal prob­lems include lack of time for sex and blam­ing a part­ner for the stresses of child rear­ing.)
“Cou­ples won’t go to mar­i­tal ther­apy with just the one thing that they are strug­gling with,” Dr. Cór­dova said. “So they end up strug­gling in places where the fix might be sim­ple, it’s just that they them­selves are blind to it.”
Not sur­pris­ingly, some ther­a­pists are cre­at­ing online self-help pro­grams to reach cou­ples before seri­ous prob­lems set in. Dr. Doss and Andrew Chris­tensen, a psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les, are recruit­ing cou­ples at to study such a pro­gram.
The online study, financed by a five-year $1.2 mil­lion grant from the National Insti­tute of Child Health and Human Devel­op­ment, will deliver online ther­apy to 500 cou­ples. It is based on “accep­tance ther­apy,” which focuses on bet­ter under­stand­ing of a partner’s flaws — a tech­nique described in “Rec­on­cil­able Dif­fer­ences” (Guil­ford Press, 2002), by Dr. Chris­tensen and Neil S. Jacob­son.
The method, for­mally called inte­gra­tive behav­ioral ther­apy, was the sub­ject of one of the largest and longest clin­i­cal tri­als of cou­ples ther­apy. Over a year, 134 highly dis­tressed mar­ried cou­ples in Los Ange­les and Seat­tle received 26 ther­apy ses­sions, with follow-up ses­sions every six months for the next five years.
Half the cou­ples received tra­di­tional ther­apy that focused on bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion and prob­lem solv­ing, while the oth­ers took part in a sim­i­lar pro­gram that included accep­tance ther­apy. Five years after treat­ment, about half the mar­riages in both groups were sig­nif­i­cantly improved, accord­ing to the study, which appeared in the April issue of The Jour­nal of Con­sult­ing and Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy. Dr. Chris­tensen says about a third of the sub­jects could be described as “nor­mal, happy cou­ples,” a sig­nif­i­cant improve­ment con­sid­er­ing how dis­tressed they were at the start. (The cou­ples who received accep­tance ther­apy had bet­ter results after two years, but both types of ther­apy were about equal by the end of the study.)
The hope is that an online ver­sion of the pro­gram could reach cou­ples sooner, and also offer booster ses­sions to improve results. Even so, Dr. Chris­tensen notes that the dis­ad­van­tage of online ther­apy is that it won’t give cou­ples a third party to ref­eree their dis­cus­sion.
“Nobody thinks it’s going to replace indi­vid­ual ther­apy or cou­ples ther­apy,” he said. “There’s gen­er­ally a sense that the inter­ven­tion might be less pow­er­ful, but if it’s less pow­er­ful but is eas­ily admin­is­tered to many more peo­ple, then it’s still a very help­ful treat­ment.”
Researchers at Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity offer an exten­sive online mar­i­tal assess­ment, called Relate, for cou­ples and indi­vid­u­als. The detailed ques­tion­naire, at www.relate–, takes about 35 min­utes to com­plete and gen­er­ates a lengthy report with color-coded graphs depict­ing a couple’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­flict style, how much effort each part­ner puts into the rela­tion­ship, and other things. The fee is $20 to $40.
Aus­tralian researchers are using the same assess­ment, along with a DVD and tele­phone edu­ca­tion pro­gram called Cou­ple Care, found at, to reach fam­i­lies in remote areas who don’t have access to tra­di­tional ther­apy. The Utah and Aus­tralia researchers have begun a ran­dom­ized, con­trolled trial of about 300 cou­ples to deter­mine the effec­tive­ness of the approach.
Pre­lim­i­nary data show that cou­ples reported improve­ment, but Kim Hal­ford, a pro­fes­sor of clin­i­cal psy­chol­ogy at the Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land, St. Lucia, in Aus­tralia, said more study of long-term effects was needed.
Dr. Hal­ford notes that as more cou­ples meet through Web dat­ing ser­vices, the appeal of online cou­ples coun­sel­ing may increase. “If infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is inte­gral to how you began your rela­tion­ship,” he said, “then if ther­apy is required it’s not sur­pris­ing that they would look to online tech­nol­ogy.”
A ver­sion of this arti­cle appeared in print on June 29, 2010, on page D1 of the New York edi­tion.
Copy­right 2010 The New York Times Com­pany
Pri­vacy Pol­icy
620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018


If you are not sure about qual­ity of your rela­tion­ship, you may check it HERE

If your rela­tion­ship is less than you may con­sider “per­fect”, The Game­less Rela­tion­ship will expose exactly what may be missing.

Thank you



Who chose your partner?

Whether your rela­tion­ship is going well or not you can always think back to the out­set of the rela­tion­ship and, if you are able to look at those begin­nings with an open mind and objec­tively, you can always say, I told you so. Or at least your par­ents, rel­a­tives or friends could say it.

Our ini­tial rea­sons, feel­ings and intu­ition, or denial of the same are very telling about what our rela­tion­ship will look like in the future. No sur­prises here. If, say, when you first met your part­ner your intu­ition told you that he/she was not for you for any par­tic­u­lar rea­son or in gen­eral, and later you gave in to your feel­ings and rea­sons for not trust­ing your intu­ition, you may very well regret it at some point in the future. If you got into the rela­tion­ship with an agenda, when­ever your agenda gets ful­filled or is not per­ti­nent any more, the rela­tion­ship will most likely dis­solve. You may even be unaware of the real rea­son why you do not want to be in a rela­tion­ship any more, so you will look for some super­fi­cial imme­di­ate rea­son to end it, but if you go deep enough you will always find that orig­i­nal agenda being the real rea­son and cause for your “change of heart”.

Now imag­ine that your part­ner came into the rela­tion­ship with an agenda that he/she has never revealed to you. Often they may not even be clear about it them­selves, or they may be in denial about it. You may end up bewil­dered and con­fused as to what hap­pened. You will never get a straight answer from your part­ner for the rea­sons men­tioned above and you will have to set­tle for some other lame and unbe­liev­able excuse for the break-up. Either way, the real rea­son most of the time lies in the ini­tial rea­son for being in the rela­tion­ship in the first place.

So, who chose your part­ner? Were they your fears, long­ings, desires, inner child, inse­cu­ri­ties, low self-esteem, lone­li­ness, sex drive, you name it. These are just some of the rea­sons. Men and women usu­ally have very dif­fer­ent ones. That par­tic­u­lar dif­fer­ence makes it very dif­fi­cult for you to dis­cern what the real rea­sons are for your part­ner want­ing out.

But when all is said and done, the rea­sons for break­ing up most of the time are just that: rea­sons, plau­si­ble sto­ries, excuses and expla­na­tions. Orig­i­nal agen­das are rarely part of the break-up con­ver­sa­tion and tak­ing respon­si­bil­ity for it is not even on the radar screen. It is much eas­ier to blame the other for your lack of com­mit­ment, respon­si­bil­ity, integrity and gen­uine love.

Aware­ness exer­cise: Being hon­est with your­self is very demand­ing, often uncom­fort­able, some­times even impos­si­ble, but nev­er­the­less, it is an essen­tial prac­tice for being in touch with real­ity and your growth and devel­op­ment. This exer­cise has two parts: a) no mat­ter how resis­tant and uncom­fort­able it may be, admit to your­self the real rea­sons you got into the rela­tion­ship in the first place, and b) remem­ber what your ini­tial reac­tion was when you met your future part­ner for the first time. What con­clu­sions can you draw from these mem­o­ries? Cau­tion: This is nei­ther the place nor the time to blame any­one, includ­ing your­self. Just notice what insights you come up with. You may even share them with your part­ner if you think it appropriate.

Please share those insights  with us.


How To Avoid A Conflict

argu­ment |ˈärgyəmənt|


1 an exchange of diverg­ing or oppo­site views, typ­i­cally a heated or angry one

Accord­ing to the above def­i­n­i­tion – and we will con­cen­trate on the most com­mon vari­ety – an argu­ment is a con­flict of views or opinions.

In order to be able to dis­solve a con­flict we must first be able to dis­tin­guish between a fact and an opin­ion or a per­sonal view.

The fol­low­ing are some exam­ples of opin­ion statements:

This is ter­ri­ble

You are wrong

You are a jerk, rude, etc.

You are very late

You always do that

You never ______

And here are some fact statements:

It is rain­ing here

I am home

You arrived at 2:40 PM

I am hungry

I think that you ______

The door is open

You said: _____

I did not go to work yesterday

Most of the time con­flict arises from think­ing that our opin­ions are facts and our treat­ing them as facts. The prob­lem starts when we start tak­ing actions based on what we per­ceive as a fact but in real­ity they are only our opinions.

Often we are blind to the fact that our opin­ions are just that, and although they may appear as facts to us, they are just “our” truths and not THE truths. The first step in dis­solv­ing a con­flict of this nature is to start own­ing our opin­ions.

As a speaker we can start by mod­i­fy­ing the way we make statements:

Instead of say­ing “This is wrong” you may say I THINK that this is wrong. Instead of say­ing: “You are wrong”, you may want to ask: “Why do you think that?” Instead of angry become curious.

Opin­ions are inter­pre­ta­tions, judg­ments and assess­ments ABOUT what hap­pened. Opin­ions are gen­er­ated in our mind.

I have heard many peo­ple fight tooth and nail to prove that their opin­ions are true. And yes, they are true, but only for them and not nec­es­sar­ily for any­one else. Just because some or ALL the peo­ple agree with your opin­ion, it does not make it any more true.


Effective Communication vs. Arguments (1)

Before we start talk­ing about argu­ments and effec­tive  com­mu­ni­ca­tion, let’s define what we mean by these terms.

com­mu­ni­ca­tion |kəˌmy­oōnəˈkā sh ən|
• the suc­cess­ful con­vey­ing or shar­ing of ideas and feelings

ORIGIN: late Mid­dle Eng­lish : from Old French comu­ni­ca­cion, from Latin communicatio(n-), from the verb com­mu­ni­care ‘to share’ (see communicate ).

Also, here is the def­i­n­i­tion of argu­ment for our pur­poses as well, so that we know what we are talk­ing about:

argu­ment |ˈär­gyəmənt|
• an exchange of diverg­ing or oppo­site views, typ­i­cally a heated or angry one.
• a rea­son or set of rea­sons given with the aim of per­suad­ing oth­ers that an action or idea is right or wrong.

ORIGIN: Mid­dle Eng­lish (in the sense [process of rea­son­ing] ): via Old French from Latin argu­men­tum, from arguere ‘make clear, prove, accuse.’

Now that it is clear what the dif­fer­ence is between the two let’s see how we can start com­mu­ni­cat­ing effec­tively instead of argu­ing. If you hap­pen to pre­fer argu­ing, than you can just skip this arti­cle. I will not be offended in the least.

Let’s say at the begin­ning that heated argu­ments and anger are caused by fear and loss of power. When we iden­tify with our opin­ions and posi­tions, we per­ceive any dis­agree­ment as a threat to our per­son. As if some­how our iden­tity will be dimin­ished if we admit that we may be wrong and thus lose an argu­ment. Being right becomes tan­ta­mount to per­sonal sur­vival. Need­less to say, this is com­pletely auto­matic reac­tion aimed at sur­vival of our ego. The first step in con­trol­ling anger is as always to become aware of it and then rec­og­nize that our fear is ground­less. We do not die from los­ing an argu­ment. This is the first step in trans­form­ing an argu­ment into com­mu­ni­ca­tion; chill out and lose the fear.

If you do not want to get into argu­ment in the first place, it is impor­tant to get a lit­tle pre­pared before hand as well as being aware of your behav­ior dur­ing the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Before any encounter starts make sure that you have a mutual pur­pose, or agreed upon rea­son for the con­ver­sa­tion. In other words that both of you want to talk about some­thing although you may wish for dif­fer­ent out­come. This process of agree­ment starts with your com­mit­ment to have the issue resolved and dis­solved into a win/win sit­u­a­tion. With­out this ini­tial and unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment on your part there is no hope for mean­ing­ful res­o­lu­tion, and argu­ments will most cer­tainly persevere.

So, in prepa­ra­tion for con­ver­sa­tion first learn what your partner’s story is. Do not pre­sume that you know. Your knowl­edge prob­a­bly comes from hearsay or from your inter­pre­ta­tions of his behav­ior. Either of these sources may be inac­cu­rate. Find out what infor­ma­tion you missed, or didn’t have access to. What past expe­ri­ences influ­enced him? What is his rea­son­ing why he did what he did? What were his inten­tions (not your inter­pre­ta­tions and thoughts about his inten­tions). What are his feel­ings? How this sit­u­a­tion affects him? What is at stake? While “find­ing out” his story make sure you are not spy­ing on him or doing any­thing out of integrity. As they say in court, ille­gally acquired evi­dence is not admis­si­ble. In your case, it kills the fur­ther con­ver­sa­tion about your issue and turns into the issue of trust.

Next thing is to express your views and feel­ings.  Your goal is to express your views and feel­ings about the sit­u­a­tion or an event clearly, hon­estly and respect­fully. A word of cau­tion: Express­ing your feel­ings does not mean that you “dump” your feel­ings onto your part­ner. You should talk about your feel­ings not demon­strat­ing them in your behav­ior. You can say that you are angry. But do not attack her to show her how much. With­out express­ing your feel­ings try to com­mu­ni­cate your views, inten­tions, feel­ings and con­tri­bu­tion to the prob­lem or the issue at hand. In other words you can share your story. If your part­ner is will­ing to lis­ten at all, the chances are that after such an hon­est and brave encounter you may start to actu­ally coop­er­ate and have a pro­duc­tive and mature con­ver­sa­tion where you will be able to brain­storm cre­ative ways to sat­isfy both of your needs and ensure a work­able way to resolve your conflict.

As it is impor­tant to have a mutual pur­pose for a con­ver­sa­tion it is as impor­tant to have mutual respect. You must con­sciously pre­pare for this in advance, cre­ate a mind­set. Any show of dis­re­spect for her will pro­duce a defen­sive reac­tion and con­ver­sa­tion will imme­di­ately become unsafe. The moment that dis­re­spect is shown the con­ver­sa­tion is no longer about the orig­i­nal pur­pose  – it is about defend­ing her dig­nity and at that point any com­mu­ni­ca­tion will come to a screech­ing halt. If you are shown dis­re­spect do not get “hooked”. Stay true to your val­ues and do not just auto­mat­i­cally, emo­tion­ally react. Keep show­ing respect and request that you be shown one if con­ver­sa­tion is to con­tinue. Keep eye on the ball i.e. on the orig­i­nal purpose.

Final step in prepa­ra­tion is to ensure that you have con­ducive envi­ron­ment for a con­ver­sa­tion, proper set­ting. (It is dif­fi­cult to have a good con­ver­sa­tion when you are not phys­i­cally com­fort­able, cold, in a noisy envi­ron­ment with no pri­vacy.) Do both of you have time, are you ready to have a frank dis­cus­sion, are both of you in a mood for tack­ling the prob­lems at hand, etc.?

Stay tuned.  Next time we will talk about some things to keep in mind dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion that will get your dif­fer­ences effec­tively resolved.

Fred Kofman’s phe­nom­e­nal book “Con­scious Busi­ness” inspired me to write this arti­cle. Thank you.


Disagreements in Marriages and Relationships

In my last arti­cle we talked about how the attempt to make clear what we are actu­ally talk­ing about may resolve many repeat­edly frus­trat­ing arguments.

Here I am going to dig a lit­tle deeper into the causes of dis­agree­ments and argu­ments in rela­tion­ships. Why do cou­ples argue so much? You would think that since you will­ingly started your rela­tion­ship that you must have agreed on most issues and even in the areas where you ini­tially did not you thought that as rea­son­able peo­ple you would be able to work things out. Well, after months and years of being in a close rela­tion­ship not only did the dis­agree­ments not get bet­ter, they got worse.

We do not see things as they are.
We see things as we are.


Jean Piaget, the French child devel­op­ment psy­chol­o­gist, con­ducted a reveal­ing exper­i­ment. He gave a group of chil­dren a wooden block, which was painted red on one side and green on the other. After exam­in­ing the block he would show them the green side and ask them what color he was see­ing. Most chil­dren younger than five years old answered “green”. They were inca­pable of rec­og­niz­ing that the per­son on the other side could see some­thing dif­fer­ent than they did. Older chil­dren gave the cor­rect answer. They under­stood that while they were see­ing the green side of the wooden block, the researcher on the other side saw red. These chil­dren demon­strated that they had devel­oped a sense of per­spec­tive, the abil­ity to appre­ci­ate the sit­u­a­tion from another point of view.

How often in your rela­tion­ship have you behaved as if you were younger then five? How often do you think that your point of view is real­ity itself and if your part­ner does not see the sit­u­a­tion or event the same way you do, he/she is plain “wrong”. That is called onto­log­i­cal arro­gance, think­ing that what you think is real is real for every­one else as well, that you are right while every­one else who does not agree with you is wrong. When our daugh­ter, Diana, was five years old, she would say that she didn’t like mush­rooms because they were yucky. In fact, the oppo­site was true. Diana called mush­rooms “yucky” because she did not like them. She thought that any­one who liked mush­rooms had no taste: a typ­i­cal case of onto­log­i­cal arro­gance. Ontol­ogy is the branch of phi­los­o­phy that stud­ies the nature of real­ity. Onto­log­i­cal arro­gance is the belief that your per­spec­tive is priv­i­leged, that your way is the only way to inter­pret the sit­u­a­tion. If you see green every­one else must see green also, oth­er­wise they don’t know what they are talk­ing about. While onto­log­i­cal arro­gance is cute and endear­ing in chil­dren, it is much less charm­ing in adults – yet it seems to be preva­lent in adults. It may become quite dev­as­tat­ing for a rela­tion­ship if your onto­log­i­cal arro­gance adopts the behav­ioral atti­tude of “it’s my way, or the highway”.

In charged sit­u­a­tions most of us assume that we see things as they are; it is not so. We actu­ally see thing as they appear to us. Check it out for your­self. When was the last time that you met an “idiot” who thinks exactly like you do? Do you think that peo­ple who dis­agree with you are idiots, or you call them idiots because they dis­agree with you? (Instead of “idiot”, you may sub­sti­tute the epi­thet which you usu­ally use on your partner.)

The oppo­site of arro­gance is humil­ity. Humil­ity comes from the Latin word humus, mean­ing ground.  Being a hum­ble per­son, a per­son with onto­log­i­cal humil­ity, means that you real­ize that you do not have a spe­cial claim on real­ity or truth, it means that you are well grounded in real­ity. Remem­ber, the first step to trans­form­ing any sit­u­a­tion is being in a pro­found rela­tion­ship with what is so. You would under­stand that other people’s and your partner’s per­spec­tive are just as valid as yours and that they deserve respect and con­sid­er­a­tion. Onto­log­i­cal humil­ity makes sense on an intel­lec­tual level, but it is not our nat­ural atti­tude. It requires, at the min­i­mum the cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment of a six-year-old.

If we are to stop argu­ing, dis­agree­ing about every­thing, quar­rel­ing, scream­ing at each other, etc., and as a result feel not under­stood, deserted, resent­ful, angry, aloof, dis­ap­pointed, not loved or respected, we must stop behav­ing as five-year-olds. We must make an effort to be aware of our own per­spec­tive and point of view, allow oth­ers to have their own, and attempt to step into their shoes and see their per­spec­tive on the world. Only then would we be able to start to under­stand why they think what they do and why they do what they do. This does not mean that you have to be a psy­chol­o­gist and under­stand every “how” and “why” the other per­son thinks; respect­ing another’s point of view would be suf­fi­cient. Also, by prac­tic­ing onto­log­i­cal humil­ity it does not mean that you are giv­ing up your own per­spec­tive. It is quite hum­ble to say that mush­rooms are yucky as long as you add “for me”. You may be hum­ble and still assert your­self, your views are com­pletely valid, as long as you do not oblit­er­ate and inval­i­date or dis­re­gard your partner’s point of view. This is why I had a whole chap­ter on agree­ing with your part­ner and why I refer to it in The Rela­tion­ship Saver.

Dur­ing our lives we all have very unique expe­ri­ences on the basis of which we form our world-view, our men­tal model of the world.  Your men­tal model is your own par­tic­u­lar set of deeply ingrained assump­tions, gen­er­al­iza­tions, beliefs, and val­ues. From this model stem all the inter­pre­ta­tions and mean­ings we give to our expe­ri­ences. Mean­ings and inter­pre­ta­tions, as I men­tioned in other arti­cles, are not “out there”. They are formed “in-here”, in our minds, and everyone’s men­tal model is dif­fer­ent, some­times only slightly, but dif­fer­ent nev­er­the­less. We must start being aware of other people’s mind mod­els and start appre­ci­at­ing and under­stand­ing them if we want our own mean­ings and real­ity to be under­stood and appre­ci­ated by oth­ers. Only then can we aspire to start hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions as adults, and not as four-year-olds. We might even learn some­thing we didn’t know that we didn’t know. It’s time to grow up.

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