Personal Space

Recently I took my family on a camping trip. Not the rustic, no electricity hike into the deep woods with backpacks type camping, but the RV in the state park with a picnic table and fire pit type camping.

During one of our stops we observed what I believe to be two cultural differences in those that camp. There are those who believe that it is acceptable to walk through others campsites, and those who do not. Personally, the issue doesn’t bother me much, but it created some camping2interesting discussion around the campfire as to why some people find this acceptable while others do not.

When you are at a campfire with friends/family and a stranger works their way through the three feet between you and your camper, it gets a little uncomfortable. I believe that some would rather not have people walking through their campsite because it feels like an invasion of their personal space. Or at the very least, ground they rented for the week. Yet there are some who have no problem at all with this action taken by complete strangers. Why the difference?

campingPeople, for the most part have limits on how close they will allow someone get to them. Family members and non-family members have different limits on physical closeness. It may be a safety issue, or lessons learned from past experience.  Either way, maybe we should reconsider some of the things we do in light of how it makes others feel. To be considerate of others can go a long way in making an impact in them.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The current debate over gay marriage has stirred up a lot of discussion in social media given the ruling of the SCOTUS. With as many blog posts, facebook rants, tweets and instragram photos of rainbows you would think that the end of the world was happening.. What I find interesting is not the issue at hand, but how people are reacting to it and each other. It seems that people are not interested in what the opposing side has to say, but is interested in holding steadfast to their own opinion.

I see this in marriage counseling often. One side is so busy providing their position that they fail to really hear the other person or try to understand them. Often this comes about because we are more interested in being “right” and putting up a defense that we actually interrupt the other before they are done speaking. This is why I teach active listening to the coCommunication-Quotesuples I meet with. This simple, basic approach to listening to the other without interrupting and giving our opinion helps the communication process. No, it will not solve all of your disagreement, but it might allow you and the other person to actually hear and understand their viewpoint.

Often times couples seek help from friends family, clergy, or counselors to help settle the differences. But what if you simply disagree with the other person? What do you do with that? When one party has an opinion opposite the other and they simply cannot see eye to eye. How do we resolve the difference and eliminate the tension that disagreeing brings about? I often ask the couple if they are comfortable in living with that tension. If they can still continue as a couple without it influencing their relationship in a negative manner. If they are, they can still have a healthy relationship. If they are not, then what is the compromise they can be comfortable with? This is where couples, and people who disagree, struggle. It seems that we have a hard time accepting that we have differing opinions on an issue. It has become commonplace to try and argue your point, discredit the others view and dismiss it, or even dismiss the person you disagree with simply because you cannot agree.

This is what I find the most interesting about the current debate over gay marriag80344c5c27585fb2c7174222c5a362c5e. We have lost the ability to communicate, listen, and disagree while still respecting the other persons viewpoint. Take a look around you, the blogs, tweets, and facebook posts. How many of them dive into arguments trying to prove the other side “wrong”? How many respectfully listen to the other and have a civil debate and even agree that they disagree? My guess is very few of the later.

I challenge you with this; when you disagree with a friend, try to understand where they are coming from and why they hold the view that they do. If you still disagree after hearing, listening, and understanding them, then acknowledge that you disagree but that you respect them. Let them know that you still care for them and that this disagreement will in no way harm the friendship. Maybe then we can have meaningful discussions that do not result in broken relationships just because we disagree.

I do not know the context of this quote, and I know it has been making the rounds on social media and has been credit to someone other than the original author. But the message proves the point of this blog post.

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren.

Things are Not Always What They Seem

I recently took a trip to Vegas for a convention, I have not been there in about 17 years. Back then I was single, no kids, and on a cross-country motorcycle trip. Now I am married 15+ years, have five kids, and no longer own the motorcycle. I anticipated a town that resembled what I saw on TV and in the movies, and was greatly surprised by what I found. You see, it wasn’t dirty or consist of swarms of drunk people gambling their life savings away. There were no scantily clad women parading around the streets and every vice known to man available at every turn. Instead, I found a very clean city, polite people, order, many tourists and a very lively nightlife with entertainment options for every taste.I would have no problem bringing my young family with little kids to areas I visited because it was very family friendly. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and I’m glad that it wasn’t.

1_Las_vegas_stripI am sure there are some parts of Vegas that do fit the negative description, as there are in any big city. But it reminded me that people are not always what they are portrayed to be. Marriages, relationships, are not always going to be what we perceive them to be. We really do not know someone until we take the time to really get to know them. To spend time with them, to listen to what they have to say. Only then do we see them for who they are, good or bad, and only then can we be of assistance to help them with their struggles.

I’m glad Vegas disappointed me. It taught me a lesson, one we can all learn from.