So Mary put up a very nice post last week about the power of “Yes”.
And I want to bring up the other side of “Yes And”.
And I want to mention it in a very specific context. I want to talk about “And” in terms of fighting.
What… you don’t fight with your spouse? Obviously, I don’t mean physically.
I also don’t mean arguing. What’s the difference? In an argument, we say “Yes, But…” to each other. When we fight, we say “Yes, And”.
“I know you want to go out with your friends, but we have a lot to do around here.”
“I know you’re under pressure and got tied up at work, but it screwed up my whole plan for the evening.”
Over time, I’ve started to hear the word “But” as either “it doesn’t matter” or “I don’t care”.
“But” separates our situation from our partner’s. It disconnects us. When we say “Yes but-”, we’re being that kid. You know, the one from the playground, when you were playing cops and robbers? The one robber who kept calling “you missed me!” - no matter how many times you “shot” him.
In a fight, as opposed to an argument, my partner will land blows. And, by that, I don’t mean she’ll hurt me – I mean I’m going to try to take in what she’s saying. I try to fight the instinct to defend myself and really take her in. And then I’m going to try to connect what she gave me to the situation as I see it.
After all, are we really acknowledging our partners when, just after mentioning their situation, we tell them “it doesn’t matter/ I don’t care”?
“I know you want to go out with your friends – and at the same time, we have a lot to do around here.”
“I know you’re under pressure at work – and I also want you to understand that staying late screwed up my whole plan for the evening.”
It feels unnatural to use “And” at first, but I think a lot of trouble comes from the way “But” disconnects us from each other and creates a (frequently false) assumption that only one of us can be right. (By the way, you’ll notice, in the prior sentence, I used a “but” - I’m not saying never to use it. I’m saying, be aware of what you’re actually saying).
People talk about “making compromises” in marriage. I think, when both sides are hearing what the other are saying – when both sides are truly factoring each other’s situation into their whole awareness and goals – then we don’t end up making compromises. Instead, we both help each other get where we want to be.