One of the fun parts about getting to know a new couple is learning about how they first met. Because, invariably, you don’t get to hear just one story. You get to hear two: his and hers. Conflicting memories can be important when you’re dealing with events and situations that go deeper. Maybe you and your spouse have different accounts of an awkward situation at a family gathering and, as a result, can’t decide how to deal with it. Or, you don’t agree on the outcome of a serious conversation about what to do with a rebellious teenager. What do you do when you want to be on the same page, but seem to be reading different scripts? How can we learn more about couples differences?
Assume best intent
Don’t blurt, “That’s not true!” or, “You’re wrong.” By doing so, you are essentially calling your partner a liar or putting them on the defensive. Remember, two people can witness the same event and have different accounts. It happens sometimes with witnesses in court cases. Different does not necessarily mean someone is lying or wrong. Keep in mind, too, that if it’s an issue concerning the two of you, neither of you is coming to it devoid of feelings. Their emotions may have coloured what they remember, but the same is true for you too. Presume they have good intentions and are not just trying to make you look bad.
Accept your differences
While the angle from which we see things affects the way we interpret them, the brains of men and women also process information differently. There’s a reason men tend to be “silo” thinkers, able to separate issues one from another; while, for women, everything is interrelated like one giant flow chart. Men and women perceive and process things differently. Our mental “computers” don’t run the exact same software.
Address the issue
Don’t get lost in the disputed facts. Sure, there will be times when someone’s memory is not just different, but wrong and in a way that matters. If one of you failed to pay the mortgage in time, it may be important to clear up who dropped the ball so that you can both be sure it doesn’t happen again. Sometimes couples remember things differently because one or both are not really listening or with their full attention. As a result, the person only hears part of what was said and thus has a different recollection of the facts. That’s why listening well to one another is so important.
The main point in addressing differing memories is not which version of events is right. It’s not about winning an argument. The goal should be to try to understand why your partner recalls things the way he or she does and what that means for you both going forward. Always ask yourself, “What’s more important, being right or being in the relationship? Understanding couples differences leads to a healthier relationship.
Do you have a basic tip for negotiating the differences in your relationship? We’d love to hear about it in the comments box below or send an email to Russell and tell him about it. This blog post was written by Russell.