In a recent LI post, an article is cited in which the author writes about an interaction between a woman and her spouse. She has been thinking about a romantic trip to Paris and, as she goes into the living room to tell her husband about the trip, she is thinking to herself “I hope he agrees.”
When she tells her spouse about the trip, he says, “I disagree.”
The article breaks down the origins of the words “agree” and “disagree”.
The focus of the article is the the word “disagree”. As far as the author of the article is concerned the words “I disagree.” really mean (my interpretation) that the spouse has no intention of going to Paris.
“Disagree” is a ‘stop’ word.
In other words, the spouse has thrown cold water on his wife’s dreams and is prepared to go to battle with her using his logic about all the reasons that a trip to Paris is a non-starter.
By the way, this same scenario could occur if he approaches her with an idea which is of importance to him and she says, “I disagree.”
It is an interesting article and I recommend reading it.
But, I have a different take from an emotions as tools/anger mastery perspective.
While briefly acknowledging that “disagree” might have some other, less draconian, meaning, the author doesn’t spend much time on this possibility. Nor, does he talk about the woman’s feelings.
Let’s explore some options.
She goes into the living room and shares her dreams with her spouse. When he says he disagrees, she may feel (at least one of the following):
All emotions alert us to how we perceive our surroundings and prepare us to deal with the situations we encounter. This is the message of the emotion. How we choose to respond to the message is what mastering the emotion is all about.
Note: This italicized comments are intended to communicate a general idea rather than a specific dialog.
The message of disappointment is that an anticipated event has not gone the way you would like. It is focusing on the implied reaction to the event rather than on the motives of the person with whom she is interacting. If she is disappointed, she has interpreted the words, “I disagree.” as meaning… Well, perhaps this trip was not a good idea at this time as my husband’s clear head usually prevails in these type of situations.
The message of anger is that she perceives a threat and is prepared to go to war to overcome the threat. Here the focus is on both the actions and the motives of her spouse. If she is angry, she may perceive him as being oblivious to her needs by thinking only of the cost of the trip, his own desire not to go to Paris, or his too quick reaction to find fault with the idea rather than explore options. She has interpreted the words, “I disagree.” as meaning.. I don’t care what you say, the answer is ‘no’ and that’s final!
The message of anticipation is that there is a future event coming which could have significant beneficial outcomes and which one is looking forward to. If she feels anticipation, than she has interpreted his words, “I disagree.” as meaning… I can’t really see Paris as a possibility now but let’s discuss it and see where it goes.
If she has learned to master her emotions as tools, her feelings will give her some guidance about how she wants to interact with her spouse. Once she identifies and validates the feeling, she can assess whether her perceptions are accurate by interacting with her spouse, expressing her perceptions and getting feedback from him. Based on this interaction, she can choose how she wants to respond.
I welcome your comments.