Dear Dr. Sadaqat Ali,
Much of what you teach about conversation skills seems to work provided both husband and the wife operate from a similar frame of reference when it comes to principles of marital life. But when both husband and wife keep stumbling into each other, how can the difficult issues be resolved?
My wife is a spendthrift and I am a frugal person as I want to save a reasonable amount of money for our post retirement days. She cannot delay gratification and wants to spend money in the here and now. Although she enjoys good health presently, but is not very fond of living long enough. I try my best to give her a good vision about the future but she is convinced that she will have anything but a less than full life. As far as I am concerned, I don’t want to wake up in my eighties with nothing in my pocket and nothing in the bank. When I think of working in my eighties, it looks like a horror story. The controversy is taking its toll on our relationship as we are unable to resolve it amicably. Our logics and emotions are dagger’s drawn whenever this issue emerges in our everyday lives. I am developing a pessimistic view and starting to question if talking skills only work for a chosen few?
At wits ends
Dear At wits ends,
When a husband and wife are in disagreement on a daily basis, they can’t resolve any serious issue. They are helpless. Your question that “Do talking skills only work for a chosen few?” is a very powerful, heartfelt question. While reading your letter, my mind was focused on all the possible emotions, heartaches, and turmoil both of you might have been going through. The situation surely is taking its toll. There were times when I was at odds with those I love and it gives me good insight into your situation as you are in trouble with your most important relationship. I felt a bit of the pain that is often embedded in frustration in such times. I am obliged to you for the honest expression of doubt as to just how helpful can talking skills really be? Just how far can negotiation skills really take us? Can they really mend our relationships that are broken at every other joint that hurts?
My honest answer would be: as much as we will let them. Talking skills can do a lot in the way of mending our relationships to the extent we let them; sky is the limit. We limit ourselves, not the skills, they expand our horizons.
Now, I don’t want to sound naive, I don’t want to imply that talking skills are the solution for all disagreement, dejection, and devastation in our life. They are not. Apart from the skill set, there are other sources like will, social capital, following a role model, looking into default future and taking advantage of the environment, technology and gadgets that come to our rescue when we put ourselves into trouble. But I am sure that far more often than not, it is not our lack of skill that disqualifies us from achieving purpose and results; it is our lack of compassion. I would like to share a brief incident and then I will return to your particular situation.