I’ve been thinking about disagreements this week. Arguments, fights, misunderstandings. I realize something that I’m not sure I’ve ever fully understood before now. Whenever my husband and I have had disagreements over our twenty years of marriage, I’ve always known that I was more important to him than the argument.
Think about that idea. Because I’m not sure I could always say the same thing. Sometimes I think the fight became more important to me than he was. Not ultimately, obviously, but in the moment. Yet somehow I always knew with Derek, I was more important than the fight. That shouldn’t be interpreted that he didn’t hold his ground in an argument or articulate his point of view. But through any disagreement, I knew I was more important to him than anything we were discussing.
I consider the mediation that occurs in our offices. Guidance, the county’s social worker, our Dean of Students, me–we’re often trying to help two parties work something out. Dan, our Dean of Students, and I spent about five hours on one ridiculous disagreement between students this week and I know he spends countless hours more with other disagreements. It’s almost always a stupid fight between kids who “used to be” friends. What would happen if everyone could approach arguments valuing each other more than the fight?
This seems particularly important with people who are close, especially in the same family. That’s where the passion in a fight often explodes. And that’s where we should most value each other, more than whatever argument is at hand. I don’t know about you, but when I reflect on the arguments and disagreements I’ve had with the people I love most, they almost always seem absurd in hindsight.
So I’m going to give it a try. The next time I feel angry with someone, or frustrated, or hurt, I’m going to look at the person, see why I care about her, and realize that she is more important than the issue about which we’re angry. I hope my children can learn their father’s approach: that the person standing on the other side is much more important than the fight in between.