Studies show that the most successful relationships are the ones where the couple are similar enough that they comfortingly compliment each other and different enough that they invitingly challenge each other.
Now this is certainly true with this couple. He is a person by dint of personality and profession (engineer) who values logic. She is a person by dint of personality and profession (sales) who values feelings. He spots specifics and she stares at the panorama.
He thinks logic is going to win the day because that is how logic is supposed to work. However, as soon as she begins to feel that he’s clobbering her with facts, she shuts down. “What’s the use? He’s not interested in what I have to say” is her mantra. And he becomes frustrated when he sees her give up. He wants her to fight for her ideas. He’s a competitor and that’s what competitors do!
They’ve created dance steps, patterns, rituals for arguing and those steps are now like the air they breathe. They presume, “well, that’s just the way we are.” Hmm. . .not exactly.
The quality of a relationship is based on the quality of the communication in the relationship. If you are unhappy in a relationship then one of the chief reasons is because of the communication that is taking place.
I asked the groom, “when you’re in an argument, do you notice that she’s becoming more passive?” “Yes.” “Then, why do you persist with the logic, the reasons?” “I want her to see it my way.” “Does she ever come out of her passive state and say, ‘you’re right—I wasn’t thinking straight.’” “No.” “Never? Then why do you persist?”
And I asked the bride, “in an argument, what’s your goal?” “To get what I want.” “And how do you do that?” “I plead and then when I get frustrated, I just ask, ‘what do I have to do to get X?” “And do you ask in a pleasant tone of voice or do you have attitude?”
Smiles all around.
“Do you pout; cross your arms, and make it sound like a demand if not an ultimatum?”
She actually looked shocked that I knew!
80% of what we respond to in a conversation is not what is said, but how it is said. She tuned him out when he started to lecture. He tuned her out when she started to pout.
No one likes a know-it-all and no one likes a whiner.
So, what to do? It is not possible to magically change personality. Nor is there any reason to do so.
Choices can be made in how to communicate.
She needs to understand that “because it feels good” is not a reason that is going to advance her cause. How do you respond to a “reason” like that?
He needs to understand that people don’t always make decisions based on what is most logical. He needs to help her explore her feelings so as to help her understand what she is thinking. And, she needs to help him explore his thoughts so as to help him understand what he is feeling.