Our Stories Connect Us – Listen Carefully

I’ve written to encourage couples to argue to improve intimacy and connection. This is done in all relationships by discovering, choosing and proving error or accuracy. So, for example, the wife wants a new living room couch. Arguing is a worthwhile skill to have when the husband talks to himself to discover how he feels about a new couch and its color. Then by listening carefully, he chooses the narrative that he doesn’t really care whether there is a new couch in the living room or not. If he wants to remain securely attached, he might let her make that choice and keep his mouth shut. Why risk the connection? That decision will likely prove to be a good one. However, willingness to assert important differences of opinion are another way we are connected. We can discover, choose and prove error or accuracy when we interact by speaking our mind and listening to the other person speak their mind. And do it well without torching each other and relish the energy generated by a fair fight over the color of the new living room couch when necessary.

The second narrative – and just as important, is reconnecting after the stress from the challenge and demands of a long day of both work and child rearing. Sharing this recovery can be unifying and intimacy bonding or produce an outcome of shattering aloofness. Listening is complicated. Comedy and tragedy are two genres of narrative that help us discover why a married couple trying to listen to each other is sometimes difficult. In simple terms, the main difference between comedy and tragedy is that comedy is a serious story with a happy ending while a tragedy is a serious story with a sad ending. Some of us see tragedy where the other sees comedy.

Tragedy perceives narratives of defeating a monster, recovering from the death of a character, and rescue from victimhood. It emphasizes the realism of the characters' suffering by asking the hearer of the story to be empathetic and feel the doom. The comic naturally has a hard time listening to this. Comedy pushes not only its characters but also its subject matter into the realm of a new perspective on a normally serious topic. Comic narratives are of rags to riches and a heroic quest with messages of success. It believes most of us can take a demanding, difficult voyage and return safely. In a romantic comedy the boy and girl always get together in the end. Comedy is more optimistic and tragedy more pessimistic.* Comedy often has humor in its story that tragedy is likely to ignore or dismiss. Seeing life as a tragedy or comedy causes discovery of different stories for stress relief from the challenge and demands of everyday life. Their narratives often conflict and are harder to appreciate and listen to. Couples who have different world views, one comedy and the other tragedy, are often like two ships passing in the night unable to interact to discover, choose and prove accurate connection.

How do we become animated by optimistic comedy or pessimistic tragedy? Learning plays a part, but a chief answer is in the narratives of what can be called our natural, genetically enhanced personality patterns. One such concept is discovered with the Enneagram. It deserves more time than what we are going to spend, but introducing it now is helpful. “The Enneagram is a system of personality typing that describes patterns in how people interpret the world and manage their emotions. The Enneagram describes nine personality types and maps each of these types on a nine-pointed diagram which helps to illustrate how the types relate to one another.” ** “There are several triangles or groupings of three on the Enneagram, and 2, 7 and 9 are part of the Comedy (optimistic) Trio or Triad. What that means is that these three Enneagram types tend to have a very positive or optimistic outlook on life in general.” 6 is widely thought to be a tragedy/pessimistic Enneagram number. *** In my opinion those who are a number 1, 4, and 5 may also be animated by pessimistic tragedy.

Here’s the idea. The Enneagram is one way to understand why listening is complicated by the filters, maps and expectations of one’s personality. People can still be connected with unity and intimacy because error and accuracy can be discovered, chosen and proven with honest awareness and patient effort to listen carefully.

* https://www.echostories.com/seven-types-of-stories/

** https://www.truity.com/enneagram/what-is-enneagram

*** https://theenneagraminbusiness.com/typing/enneagram-typing-positive-outlook-triad-differentiating-question