The “other side.”

The “other side.”

In a court of law, it’s critical that people have their say. That BOTH sides are revealed and examined for a third party (or a jury) to pass judgment.

In interpersonal relationships, tho?

Not so much—at least not RIGHT NOW.

It feels like the fair thing to do, but a lot of the time, it really doesn’t matter nearly as much as you might hope when shit is going down.

And for people who LOVE fairness, this sucks.

In fact, it used to drive me crazy. My brain thrives on fair and balanced.

From my perspective, of course.

I wanted my say RIGHT NOW. Even when my side didn’t matter as much as what someone else was experiencing.

Because when it comes right down to it, there are many different ways to view the same experience. And even people who know each other well and love each other deeply can have wildly divergent interpretations. And to them, their interpretation is going to matter most—at least in the heat of things, but most overall, as well.

People tend to trust their own mind more than they trust another human, especially when they are hurting or mad.

Which is not always as it should be.

But is as it is.

It’s not that I think the other side isn’t important.

Actually, I think it’s pretty critical.

And although I started this writing weeks ago, this morning as I pulled it up (thinking I’d completed it, but I hadn’t), I’m in the middle of my own realization that an ongoing conversation in my own relationship has been happening (for me) from my side only.

I’ve not opened the space up for my partner’s point of view in a way that invites him in and asks him to share how he sees this thing I’m struggling with from his perspective.

And I’m more than a bit chagrined.

(Lucky for me, he rarely reads my works, preferring instead to allow me to bring my thoughts to him on my own time—or not—as I see fit.)

Because OF COURSE I think his side is important.

HE is important to me, and so are his views.

Not as important as he might think they are (because well, he is him and I am me, and we both center ourselves through our lives, as it should be), but still ranking right up there with the most important things in my life after my own side most of the time, and sometimes more important than that…

But his side is important BECAUSE I have realized it’s needed NOW for my further growth and understanding.

Not because he tried to force it on me (honestly, I’m not sure he would try to make that effort) or yelled at me in the heat of the moment (that pretty much never works), or because he tried to “fix” my point of view (which is pretty offing problematic and smacks of gaslighting or taking on a role best left to peers or a therapist).

But because I’m genuinely interested AT THIS POINT in our journey together what “his side” is, and I’m not only ready to ask, but to make the space to listen, and to do my best to understand, and to grow with him in his perspective, as well as sharing mine.

And I have a system that I’ve just now realized I’ve been trying to build in my head since my marriage decades ago, when my ex and I promised each other than if one person had a mad (or sad or whatever), the other would not bring their side, but instead would work to make it right. Right then. In that time.

Because if someone felt there was something wrong enough to speak up about, that took precedence right then.

  1. Discover a quandary, and realize it needs to be communicated (which is it’s own set or steps in my head).
  2. A need to be heard and understood.
  3. Have time to think on the issue, possibly processing and speaking further.
  4. Feel like I’ve been heard and my thoughts have been accepted as mine (this does not mean the other party agrees, just that they can acknowledge and understand my POV).
  5. Invite the other side, and turn it around.

The key here, for me at least, is the invitation (versus the forcing). That the processing and feeling heard takes the first partner to a place where they are validated and able to open themselves to another perspective.

Sometimes, this all happens in the same discussion.

Sometimes, like now for me, it might happen over months.

But if and when both sides are shared and centered, it’s a beautiful thing.

More than beautiful.

Affirming and loving and fair.

What are your thoughts?

How important are your views to you versus someone else’s side? When does their side take precedence?

Do you invite others to share their side, or do you make them force their way in? Or perhaps a combination?

What do you think about the ability to share sides in a relationship, and how might you make space for both processing and understanding/growth moving forward?

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