It's really tempting...particularly when we are stressed...to grab a truth and call it, The Whole Truth."
When couples find themselves in conflict... particularly ongoing conflict... their emotions get pretty intense-- sometime overwhelming. Typically, fear is the emotion that rules the exchanges. It may look as though anger has the upper hand but most likely it's fear. If nothing else, there's the fear of losing the argument and being wrong.
Fear compels us grasp for things that feel stable. Imagine yourself having fallen overboard. You're in the water. Perhaps you're even a good swimmer. But, eventually you will tire and things will get dicey. In that situation, you would normally grasp at anything to keep yourself afloat. That's the feeling most likely to show up when you're in a serious argument with your partner. You will grasp at anything to keep your position "afloat."
In the heat of that moment, we grasp something we know is true. We hang on to it for dear life. We act as if it's the whole truth. The fact that it is, indeed, true doesn't really help.
By singling out one truth we run the risk of distorting the full picture of what's going on. Consequently, we fight about things that seem important. But, they are rarely important enough to justify all the damage being inflicted.
So, the next time you find yourself in a conflict, take a breath, step back for a moment and ask yourself if you are holding on to A TRUTH and missing THE WHOLE TRUTH as a result.
It's easy to fight when one truth is competing against another. It's pretty tough to fight when you are committed to the whole truth.
These posts are written by Jake Thiessen, PhD, co-founder of Couples at Crossroads. We hope you find them interesting, helpful and maybe provocative. Please feel free to comment on them.