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Staying Connected through Disagreement – Part 4: THE RELATIONSHIP SERIES written by Merie Burton
The idea of disagreeing with your partner and at the same time staying intimately connected with him or her sounds like an unrealistic dream. In a relationship it’s impossible to agree on everything and after a relatively short time together, all couples will disagree about issues or need to discuss ‘touchy’ matters. This is often a crucial point in a relationship because a person might believe they have only two options. They might think that they have to give up their point of view for the sake of peace or they might believe that they have to dig their feet in and fight to the bitter end.
However, there is another way of disagreeing or discussing sensitive issues whilst still staying connected. The Four Points of BalanceTM proposed by Dr. David Schnarch (2011) are trademarked by him and can be found in his work.
The Four Points of Balance is a four-step strategy to help make the process of communication very simple. This doesn’t mean that confronting a difficult situation will suddenly become easy, it just means that having four basic points to remember will help you in the midst of a tense moment.
The Four Points of BalanceTM by Dr. David Schnarch are:
1. Solid Flexible Self™
2. Quiet Mind & Calm Heart™
3. Grounded Responding™
4. Meaningful Endurance™
1. Solid Flexible Self™ (First Point of Balance). This is important to identify who you are and what you’re about. It’s about coming into a conversation with your partner aware of your core values and what you stand for. At the same time you are open to differing opinions and viewpoints.
2. Quiet Mind & Calm Heart™ (Second Point of Balance). This simply means that you calm your own anxieties without expecting your partner to, in order to discuss the topic at hand. In a way you become aware of what’s happening in your thoughts and body and you begin to self-soothe. This is important because you are not relying on your partner to agree with you and soothe you. You are simply stating what’s important to you based on your core values.
3. Grounded Responding™ (Third Point of Balance). This means you become aware of and regulate your tone of voice, your body language, your facial expressions and your general presence. The key is to speak in a calm and grounded way. This isn’t about pretending to be calm; this comes from the idea that you’ve begun to self soothe and you use a different part of your brain from which you respond to your partner rather than react.
4. Meaningful Endurance™ (Fourth Point of Balance), which means that you tolerate pain for the sake of growth. It’s painful to talk about things that you know might cause some friction in the relationship. However, it’s painful to not say what you really mean or to resent your partner for ‘no go’ topics. That kind of pain is meaningless and doesn’t lead to growth in the relationship. Meaningful Endurance™ means that you understand that it will be painful and stressful to approach a touchy subject but you choose to do it for the sake of individual growth and for the health of an authentic relationship.
This article is a very short description of a deep and genuine approach to better communication in a relationship and if you want to understand it more fully you can check out this website.
References:  Schnarch, D. 2011. Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the passion in your relationship. New York: Beaufort Books.
Author of this article:
Merie Burton is a member of PACFA (Psycho-therapy and Counselling Federation of Australia), registered psychotherapist and counsellor and works with individuals, couples and young people in her own counselling practice. Merie runs regular workshops on stress, anxiety, mindfulness and relationships at different locations throughout Brisbane and the Gold Coast. For further information or an appointment check out Merie’s website and Facebook page.