Posts tagged relationships

To understand each other (Part 5)

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Paul Tournier writes in his book that in order to achieve understanding we need to accept our natural differences.

He says that „instinctively, a very rational man is going to marry a very sentimental woman. Their complementing one another will, at the beginning, elicit an enthusiastic reaction in him. But later on he will want to make her listen to the objective arguments of reason; he will become annoyed at not being successful in this. He will try to show her that she is not logical in her sentimental explosions.“

??? When you look at couples around you – do you see this???

Now he explains what the woman will do. He says that she will „reproach her husband for his ice-cold rational manner which stifles all life.“

Nevertheless: even if people are so different by nature, they are „made to complement each other, that through each other they may discover so much of what they’ve not known or sensed before. This is one purpose of marriage.“ (Page 37)

Tournier says that man and woman are „basically different“ and this is the reason, why they have „such great difficulty in understanding one another and such great need of one another for their growth.“ He mentiones that a man has a „theoretical mind while a woman has a more person-centered mind“ and that a woman „thinks of people, and in terms of people.“ (Page 38) When men gather together they „expound magnificent theories on the way the world should be governed and how universal peace (…) can be achieved. These theories are quite abstract, detached, and unrelated to the immediate situation.“(P.38)

So a man can learn from a woman and he can „aquire a feeling for persons. Civilisation built by men alone would remain abstract, cold, technical, and dehumanized. A woman thinks in detail, also. Details interest her more than general ideas. She has a need to tell all the day’s happenings, once she is with her husband.“ (P.39).

The man „needs to learn from his wife the importance of both concrete and personal details, without which general idas are no more than empty theories.“ (P.40)

Tournier points out the speech itself „has a different meaning for men than it has for women. Through speech men express ideas and communicate information. Women speack in order to express feelings, emotions. This explains why a wife will relate then times an experience she has lived. It is not to inform her husband.“ (P.40)

She „needs to tell it again in order to discharge emotional tension which the experience has built up in her heart. Many men never ebven get to express their feelings, to say the „I love you“ that the wife would like to hear a hundred times. She asks, „Do you love me?“ He replies, „You know that I do.“ It is not that she does not know. Rather, she would like to hear it expressed ever once more. This is the greater since her husband never says it to her. He expresses his feelings in other ways: a caress, a look, or even a rough kind of grunt.“ (P.40).

Tournier tells a story of a woman „who was suffering from just such a lack of ever hearing a tender word from the lips of her husband. One day she came to see me quite upset. Her husband, without even having warned her, had had the workmen come to refinish her living-room floor. The whole house was upset and dirty. This woman was irritated. I said to her, „Each person speaks in his own way! This is how your husband tells you that he loves you. Throw your arms around him if you can understand his language. Tell him how he must love you in order to go to such expenses to give you a more beautiful living room.“

This expample reminds me actually of what my husband did for me. He painted the kitchen, table, shelves…. : everything white (in lots and lots and lots of hours), because I love white furniture! He also planted once tulips for me, because I LOVE tulips. He planted 100 (!!!) tulips for me! Wow – he really must love me =) This is really amazing! THANKS!

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Further Paul Tournier writes in his book, that in order to „understand each other, man and wife must take an interest in what interests the other, and come to understand why it interestes the other. A man will talk of his interest only when he senses genuine interest in another, and it is only when he talks of it that the other can understand better the character of that interest. In this way the horizon broadens for both partners, instead of steadily narrowing. Real understanding always brings with it a going beyond one’s self. Then can teh home serve as a foundation to one’s calling, and the calling can enrich in its turn the spiritual life of the home. The conflict from wich many couples suffer can be solved. Yet, the profound differences which separate men and women are found in the very thing which brings them together: love itself.“ (P.42&43)

Book: „To understand each other. Classic wisdom on marriage“, Paul Tournier

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How to improve understanding between individuals?

In my teacher studies I came across the „Johari Window“ and just a few weeks ago again. I had already forgotten about it and it was very good to read up on it again.

I find it very helpful.

The Johari window is a technique created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham in in the United States. It is used to help people better understand their relationship with self and others.

The two key ideas behind this tool is that you can build trust with others by disclosing information about yourself and with the help of feedback from others you can learn about yourself and come to terms with personal issues.

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There are 4 areas:

  • Open Area
  • Blind Area
  • Hidden Area
  • Unknown Area

The open areais things you know about yourself, e.g. behaviour, knowledge, skills, attitudes.

The blind areais things you are not aware of, but that are known by others. This can be simple information that you don’t know or it can involve deep issues (e.g. feeling of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, rejection). These things are often difficult for individuals to face directly and yet can be seen by others.

The hidden area is things you know about yourself but others don’t know.

The unknown area is unknown by you and others.

So what do we do with this knowledge?

The end goal is to enlarge the open area, without disclosing information that is too personal. The more your people know about each other, the more productive, cooperative and effective they will be when working together.

The process of enlarging the open area is called „self-disclosure“, and it’s a give and take process that takes place between yourself and the people you are interacting with.

As you share information, your open area expands (vertically) and your hidden area gets smaller.

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As people provide feedback to you about what they know or see about you, your open area expands horizontally and your blind area gets smaller.

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The „Johari Window“ helps to look to your own character and it illustrates the importance of sharing, being open and accepting feedback from others.

 

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