The Value in Perspective Taking by Sandy Morrison

    I don’t know that I agree that any experience can be transformed into something with positive value.  For example, I would find it nearly impossible to find something positive in things like domestic abuse, terrorism, or starving children.  Putting those types of extremes aside, I whole heartedly agree that most experiences can be valuable if we choose to look for the value.  One of the hardest things to do in the midst of an uncomfortable experience is look for the value in it because we are often distracted with the unpleasant emotions we are feeling.  Still, I wonder if we could stop and look for the value, would it change how we felt about the experience for the better?  Could this also work for a couple?  One of the benefits of being in a couple can be having someone to lean on during the hard times.  Could a stressful experience feel different if we encouraged each other to take a fresh perspective?  Unfortunately, the hard times are when we are most stressed and instead of seeking support, we often search for someone to blame.  Finding the value in an uncomfortable experience when both partners are in the struggle may be challenging, yet rewarding.  Might there be some worth in  working through challenges as a couple; might it may us “stronger”?

   Hardships prepare ordinary couples for extraordinary relations.  It turns out, despite being uncomfortable and frustrated, some stress can actually be good for a couple.  Learning to take your partner’s perspective may prepare you for future disagreements.   Research has found that experiencing some stressors early in a relationship can actually help us handle bigger stressors down the road (Neff & Brody, 2011).  Similar to lifting weights, getting through some hardships as a couple can make us stronger and tougher.  That doesn’t mean there is only one way; experience isn’t the only way to toughen up.  Communication and conflict management can be an important part of a couple’s workout routine that can be learned and developed through education (NERMEN, 2014).  In fact, a recent 21 minute intervention utilizes perspective taking as the key to addressing marital quality (Finkel, Slotter, Luchies, Walton, & Gross, 2013).  Between learning new skills and ways to overcome obstacles, couples can facilitate their own extraordinary relationship.