Q: My husband and I can’t agree on how to handle a really big issue. It’s so frustrating. We just go around and around, getting more and more furious with each other. Help!

A: I know what you’re expecting me to say here.
Communication? No.
Compromise? Nah.
Therapy? Nope.

Although every relationship needs a good heaping of the first two and possibly the third on occasion, years ago my partner and I kept getting stuck in conflicts of all shapes and sizes and we learned a “trick” from a therapist that has peacefully resolved about 95% of them.

Percentages.

Part of the problem in a fight with a loved one is that you know how much getting your way means to you, but you don’t know what it means to them. Is it an “I don’t really wanna” or “no f#%$ing way” situation for them?

Here’s how it works.

The person who wants something tells the other what they want and how strongly they feel with a percentage.

Him: “I feel 100% that we don’t travel back east for Christmas. I want to do Christmas with our kids here.”

Her: “Okay. I’m only at 50% for Christmas. It’s such a hassle to travel that time of the year. But I feel 100% that we need to go back to see our families this year—summer?”

Him “Leave California for Maryland in July? Are you kidding?”

Her: “Percentage?”

Him: “Fine. They have air conditioning, right?”

So, we don’t whip this out for restaurant decisions or which movie to see. And not everything can be a “100%” issue either. But we’ve used this therapists’ tip to resolve conflict over job changes, major purchases, relocations, parenting, even guardianship for our children. The most astonishing part? We’ve never both felt 100% on opposite sides of an issue. Most of the time we’re shocked the other person feels so strongly.

Once “100%” is thrown down, there is no more discussion. No lobbying, no passive aggressive comments, no wheedling. Nothing. That’s the rule. And it works for us.

COMMENT