Thursday, March 19, 2015

Some Advice on Conflict Resolution and the Making of a Successful Partnership

NOTE: As I've been working on a new issue of The Bourbon Country Reader, I haven't posted in the last week or so. This post contains no bourbon content. It is something I wrote for some friends about 12 years ago, at their request, on the occasion of their marriage. They're still married, if that tells you anything.

Considering my track record, my first thought was to suggest that you study my recommendations and then do exactly the opposite.

But maybe I have learned a few things.

Trust. There is nothing more important. If I am certain of anything it is that. To be with a person you can trust completely, that is the only reason to even be in a relationship. To have such people in your life in any capacity is a treasure.

Figuring out if you can trust another person is not nearly as important as being trustworthy yourself.

The best way to resolve conflicts is also the easiest: give in. State your position, explain why you feel the way you do, then let it go. Compromise quickly and generously, or simply fold altogether, then forget about it.

That doesn't mean be wishy-washy. You can have an opinion. You can even argue, just don't care about winning. Yes, someone is keeping score, but not the way you think.

No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to be too nice. Kindness does not come naturally or easily to anyone. It is counter-intuitive, you have to work at it. There is no chance that you will overdo it.

Gentleness, patience; also good.

Understanding, on the other hand, is overrated. Acceptance is more satisfying and conducive to happiness than understanding.

Shut up and listen. Of course you have to talk at some point, but the risk that you will listen too much or talk too little is very small.

Other very small risks: that you will laugh too much, smile too much, hug too much, have too much fun, see too much beauty or hear too much music. You can, however, eat too much cake.

Events you do not control will always turn out to be more interesting than events you do control. Also more entertaining, educational and, yes, more frightening, but still better.

Despite all indications to the contrary, your partner will not be improved if he or she becomes more like you. Do not try to understand why this is so. Instead, relax and enjoy the ride.

In fact, that’s probably the single best advice I can give: relax and enjoy the ride. That doesn't mean be passive. You should be engaged and involved, but also utterly open to life’s surprises. Another very small risk: that you will be too open to new experiences.

What about love? That’s the prerequisite. You won’t get very far with any of this other stuff without love. Love is the presence of all things good and the absence of all things bad. Trust, kindness, acceptance, listening – those are behaviors that require your attention. Love takes care of itself.

Thank you (names deleted for privacy) for prompting me to think about these matters. I don’t mean to suggest that I successfully follow all of my own advice all of the time, but right or wrong these are the lessons life has taught me so far.

Be nice. Have fun. Prepare to be surprised.

Chuck Cowdery, February 22, 2003


Anonymous said...

Excellent post.
But I have this concern... what if hubby drinks bourbon and wifey does not? I mean, can such a union survive?
From personal experience... so far, so good.

Steve said...

That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very nice Chuck. Well said.
Crown Pt. Marc

Anonymous said...

Richnimrod said;
Chuck, I am not surprised even a little bit that a 'heart of gold' is paired with a head to match, as well as a very good soul. Thanx for allowing us to see a bit more of your 'self' than usual. Beautiful and wise thoughts my friend.

Anonymous said...

Is the bourbon community issuing a collective yawn about the news that a fifth-generation member of the Brown family, Campbell Brown, has been put in charge of the Old Forester brand? Isn't this the sort of thing that should have a substantial section of the whiskey crowd cheering?

Chuck Cowdery said...

I'm not sure why you put this here, but okay.

To me, this is not a big deal. 'President' is a pretty empty title when you're the 'president' of a wholly-owned subsidiary. Members of the Brown family are not a rarity at Brown-Forman, it is a family-run company after all, but in management they advance based on their ability, not their name. I'm happy that Campbell got a promotion and I'm happy that Brown-Forman is spending against Old Forester, but neither represents an industry sea change.

_cl said...

Regarding your comment about "They're still married, if that tells you something." (P.S. I corrected your typo!)

I suspect that in writing this tribute to your friends, you gained a lot out of it yourself. :-)

Chuck Cowdery said...

Proofreading help is always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Chuck. I emailed your post to my wife and your wise words of kind advice saved our marriage. Also, thanks for your very enjoyable and straightforwardly written books and blogs on bourbon notes and truths. When does your regularly appearing love counseling blog appear? Cheers to the most important ingredient in life and bourbon.

Chris said...

I have to strongly disagree with one of your points. Too much cake, like whiskey, is just barely enough.