Friday, 14 November 2008

The Marriage Course 3

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"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" (Voltaire)

Apparently this is not how all married or to-be-married couples think (!) and so yesterdays session was entitled Resolving Conflict. It may have been that we managed to get home and have some supper together first, or that it was simply more interesting or maybe the course is having some effect, but yesterday's session seemed more interesting and helpful than the past 2.

According to the course, people generally behave in one of two ways at the first sign of conflict: that of a rhino (head down, charge at the other person) or that of a hedgehog (curl into a ball and withdraw, prickles out). Apparently the vast majority of couples split down into one of each type. And yes, M and I seem to be no exception to this. The trick to resolving conflict it seems is to assess which kind you are, what causes conflict, how you behave and then try and find a way of supporting each other and reducing inflammatory behaviour. Sounds obvious but I did find the process of assessing what causes conflict and working out how we behave during scenes of conflict (and then how our partner views our behaviour) helpful. M and I are lucky in that we talk a lot anyway and I was already aware of how I behave - despite having less success in changing it - so it did not come as too much of a surprise, but apparently it really does to some couples.

We also had to list things we appreciate about the other and it did surprise me to see that M listed my 'stubborn and determined' attitude as something he appreciated in me, despite me knowing that this, combined with low blood sugar, is almost always the trigger for my shouting. OK, I admit it, I am a rhino.

Last on my list of things I appreciate about M I listed this: "I love it when M brings me a cup of tea in bed". This morning I was woken up by M telling me it was time to get out of bed and that he had moved my phone (alarm clock) to the bedside table. And there, on the bedside table, in my favourite mug, was a cup of tea.

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6 comments:

citysage said...

I LOVE this hedgehog rhino analogy! I think my huz and I take turns being one or the other---or sometimes we are both the hedgehog or both the rhino. It keeps things interesting because we never know which we'll be next. but of course this makes it hard to resolve conflicts! I should show him this post...at least maybe having this vocabulary might help us in the future!

a london bride said...

Thanks for posting about your course, I'm beginning to think maybe J and I should go on one. Or at least get our Rector to do something for us. He did mention it a long time ago but nothing since...

LB x

Kristy said...

"We also had to list things we appreciate about the other and it did surprise me to see that M listed my 'stubborn and determined' attitude as something he appreciated in me, despite me knowing that this, combined with low blood sugar, is almost always the trigger for my shouting. OK, I admit it, I am a rhino."

Your description of yourself (especially the "combined with low blood sugar" part) is pretty much me to a T. I'm glad M can appreciate those qualities about you, even though they might not always come out in the best light. I hope my boyfriend feels the same about me!

Rachel said...

I think the hedgehog/rhino analogy is very helpful and despite the course being a little tedious, I think it has actually been very useful.

LB - you should look up the marriage course (run by Holy Trinity Brompton) and see where they are running it. It is free after the cost of the manual (minimal).

Kristy - thanks for your words. I am sure your boyfriend feels the same!

Cate Subrosa said...

Your latest post inspired me to come back and read parts 1, 2 and 3. Thank you, this was really interesting and gave me some helpful new perspective on my own relationship. Sometimes just having labels like rhino/hedgehog can helps us think about things differently, and from there work on them better.

Rachel said...

I'm glad you had a look at this Cate even though you are now a married lady!

Annoying and cliched though these courses can be, I have found some of the 'tools' to be very useful.

I am going to try and write about the sessions on forgiveness, parents and good sex when I get a chance. Something to look forward to! x