On the Same Side?

It is a challenge, in many relationships, to communicate your needs in a way that doesn’t come across as slamming your partner. I see men who feel decimated by the woman’s criticism – when I think the woman is trying to say, “I need this, and I would like to tell you about my needs, so that we can figure out a way for you to meet them, and I will be happy, and you will be happy.”

Callie and Brandon – unmarried parents –were so united talking about their child, that it seemed like it would be the easiest mediation, why did they even need me? and then we started to talk about money, and I could see Callie feeling that Brandon is ungenerous, and Brandon feeling that he is stretched as thin as he could be and can’t pay anything towrd support, food, diapers, child-care. In discussion, they were not able to create an environment to work together, contribute to their home and child, and as soon as she spoke, he just shut down – practically rolled his eyes – saying, “here we go, whatever I do do is unnoticed, unacknowledged, and she is only focused on – what she wants.”  He didn’t hear what she was saying.

Being engrossed with one’s own actions & point of view – normal, human – but how, in a couple, to bring in the acknowledgement of the other’s actions? In mediation, we really are in this together, because we won’t have a solution unless it works for both people.

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