Dove with Branch
September 4, 2006 Insights From the Dean of Peace
Notes from the Dean's Desk
Hello! - Dean Van Leuven

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Ask the Dean?
Dean Van Leuven   Global Struggle

Dear Dean, I felt your answer to “confused spouse” needed more comment - To "Confused Spouse", I too was a "Confused Spouse" early in my marriage of 54 years. I was confused about arguing and discussing with my partner. I thought the same as this gentleman that simply listening and quietly making up my mind without discussion or arguing would be peaceful to the relationship. However, how would he like it if he purchased something defective and went to speak to the person at the Customer Service window who listened and then without replying shut the Customer Service window with a Closed sign and walked away? That is exactly how my wife felt when she spoke to me and I listened but did not give her my viewpoint or answer her. I learned a marriage is a partnership in thought exchange, a physical exchange and an emotional exchange, which includes letting the other person know they have been heard and me appreciating their viewpoint and giving that individual the satisfaction of knowing I heard and that I cared for that person and their viewpoint. Open up and share your feelings with your partner! – David VM in Eugene

Dear David, Thank you so much for a real life story of how this works. I loved your comparison to customer service. – the Dean

Dear Dean, No matter what I do it seems my brother always has to do me one better. He got better grades, he has a prettier wife. I bought a house. He bought a bigger one. I bought a new car he buys a fancier one. No matter what I do, he does me one better. How can I get this to stop? – Always Second Best

Dear Always Second Best, Quit playing the game! What he does has nothing to do with you unless you think it does. If you quit thinking it is a competition and start appreciating both his and your successes you will enjoy life, and your brother more. If he enjoys the game let him play it. Encouraging him can even make it fun for you. - the Dean

I welcome questions and/or comments from our readers. Send your Ask the Dean questions or comments to: P.O. Box 535, Elmira, OR 97437, or visit to submit by e-mail.

Law, Politics & Society ... As I see them
  Globe Magnify Glass

We think of a court trial as a way of solving issues. In fact we have reached the point that not just a trial, but a complete exhaustion of the legal process is required. Our thinking is that we must do all we can to win, regardless of the cost in time and money.

If instead we viewed going to court as a failure, a failure to be able to resolve our issues, then we would approach the problem differently. We would make every effort to solve the problem ourselves; and then use mediation or arbitration for resolution when necessary. We would be much more willing to resolve our differences instead of battling to the end.

Unfortunately this same thing is going on in international politics. We look at war much the same way we do as going to court in the legal system. We look at war as a way to resolve our differences; instead of as a failure to resolve them. If we viewed war as representing a total failure to solve our differences we would be less eager to go to war.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Most of the anger directed at us is due to the other person having different expectations than ours. They are operating under the assumption that we will act toward them in a certain way; but when we don’t, their anger is triggered. They may hold very different beliefs, be totally unaware of our point of view or motivation, or they may simply be very different from us in many ways.

In dealing with another person’s anger, it’s important to be aware of the fact that the other person wants something to come out of their relationship with you. The key is to understand their expectations, and to help them understand yours.

Such mutual understanding is brought about by meaningful communication. Rather than expecting the other person to feel the same way you do about the situation they are upset about, make a real effort to find out how they really feel. In order to get an understanding of what’s driving their anger – so that you can ultimately diffuse it – you’ll need to hone your listening and communication skills.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: I think about how other people have different beliefs than I do.

Tuesday: I realize that it is natural for others to believe differently than I do.

Wednesday: I accept the beliefs of others as appropriate, and as valid as my own beliefs.

Thursday: I learn to listen carefully so that I can determine the beliefs of others.

Friday: I learn how to determine what the other person expects from me.

Saturday: I learn to communicate my expectations in a friendly way.

Sunday: I resolve to create mutual satisfaction in the resolution of all differences.

Dean Van Leuven is a psychologist, conducts workshops and is the author of A Peaceful New World and many other books dealing with quality of life issues. Contact him on the web at:

Additional Notes

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Dean Of Peace | P.O. Box 535 | Elmira | OR | 97437