Maple Leaf DBT PLLC
Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training in Seattle
What if they skipped compromise? What if it wasn't even needed? What if each of them could get all of what they want? What if there was a way to get the cabin and save the money? Sounds like crazy talk, right? But what if it isn't? The real trouble the Mia-Hughs are having has little to do with the money and everything to do with failing to slow down and pay attention to their situation. Because the money is only on the surface of the thing. The real marrow lies in recognizing that the money is incidental. Weird to think of $100K as incidental, eh? I wish I had an incident like that.
Hugh and Mia are smart people who got stuck. One of the things about having strong emotions, like anger or guilt, is that they narrow attention and rob us of flexibility. Intense emotions always do that, so we get easily trapped in an either/or, black/white tug of war. All this couple has done so far is tugged, then really tugged, and then traded sides and tugged some more. And then by splitting the money, by compromising, they just cut the rope in half. Not very creative, and not very satisfying. They could do better.
If it's both leisure and security,
then how about turning the cabin
into a $100,000 investment, carefully
chosen and planned, that brings joy
now and financial appreciation later
in life. He could fall in love with
making it deluxe as he thinks about
its increasing value in the future, and
she'll love making it deluxe as she
thinks about all the good times
they're going to have in it. And now
they're working together to achieve
both dreams. Real resolution honors
the full essence of each side, because
it comes out of full understanding.
In dialectics,they call that synthesis.
What's really going on here? Well, they already said it when they confided in one another. Mia wants to feel comfort and happiness, to have something she wants and not just something she needs. Hugh wants to feel safe, to not worry about being 85 and having to choose between paying the electric bill or buying groceries. She wants joy, he wants security. How come these are in opposition? Are they in opposition? Is it even true? Why can't she have comfort and he have security at the same time? Why can't they use the money to achieve both?
Synthesis: What is being left out?
This is the key question. What are Mia and Hugh each missing? How about the idea that they could seek both comfort and security? Locking down in a "who gets what" tug of war prevents them from creating a resolution to honor both needs. Mia wants to experience what it's like to have plenty without worry, and Hugh wants to experience having enough without the worry
about running out.