How do you handle hidden issues?
- First you can recognize when one may be operating and start talking about it constructively.
- If you're in an argument and suspect hidden agendas, call a Stop Action.
- Reschedule a time to discuss the hidden issue.
- Go for problem discussion not problem solution.
- The deeper the issue, the less likely it is that problem solving will be the answer.
- What you need first and foremost is to hear and understand each other's feelings and concerns. Such validating discussions have the greatest impact on hidden issues. This alone can help to resolve a hidden agenda. Listen for understanding. Try to see things from your partner's point of view. Look through their eyes with their experiences.
Such talks have so much power because the most common root issue is the desire to know you're really accepted by one another. What better way to know that you're accepted than to feel that you’re really being heard? Couples say that when they finally do talk about hidden issues, there's a tremendous sense of relief, as if a weight has been lifted.
Since dealing with these issues takes skill and effort, it's best if you're working as a team to discover, explore and handle them. Ask your self and your partner the following: "What can we do together to work through these issues?"
You can prevent a great deal of damage by learning to give events and issues the time and skill they require. If hidden issues don't come out they fester and produce levels of sadness and resentment that eventually destroy the relationship. When you learn to discuss deeper issues openly and with emphasis on validating each other, the issues that generated the greatest conflict can actually draw you closer together.
Recommended Reading: Fighting For Your Marriage by Markman, Stanley, Blumberg