Dove with Branch
November 27, 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 have a problem like Teri in Idaho (10/16 column). My husband doesn’t listen either. My husband comes home from work and wants to tell me about his day and how tough it was, but he is too tired to listen to me when I try to tell him about all the problems I have had during the day. Do you have any suggestions for getting him to listen? – Barbara H.

Dear Barbara, It takes two to talk and two to listen. You can agree to listen to him when he is ready to listen to you. Listen carefully to his story and address his concerns and then expect the same from him in return. If he is still unwilling to listen to your concerns then you have a problem. Try telling him that you are ready to listen only when he is also ready. If he still refuses to listen and you are unable to get him to listen, don’t just give up and drift your separate ways! A good relationship requires that you develop effective communication. Insist that this problem be resolved even if it takes counseling. A good relationship requires that you relate to each other in a way that is satisfactory for both of you. – the Dean

Dear Dean, Like Teri (10/16), I have a problem getting others to listen to me. At work I have no problem because I am the boss. When I come home my husband and kids don’t respect my need to be heard. They will put me off until later when I am too tired or have forgotten about the problem. How can I get them to respect my need to be heard? – Karen in Salt Lake

Dear Karen, Many in this society develop the belief that when they talk others should listen. This is reasonable at work because your job is to give directions, and your employee’s job to listen to them. The situation at home is not the same. You do not have complete control over those in the family and they get to pick their time to listen, just as you get to pick the time to talk. This is limited with the children of course because of the need to impart information to them, but the more you respect their timing the better the relationship will be. Just because we are not obligated to listen, doesn’t mean that it is not a good idea. Just listening to someone is the greatest gift we can give them. But when it is demanded it no longer seems like a gift. - 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

Our society has accepted the rule that the way to respond to violence is with more violence. If someone kills someone they should be killed. We often even translate this to include their friends and family. When we use this rule it is impossible to stop violence, since violence is always the required response. When the state uses violence for punishment it is easy for us as individuals to justify our own use of violence.

In order to stop the cycle of violence we must change our beliefs about it – and thus the way we respond. We know that the power solution of responding with more violence does not work. We have been doing it for several thousand years with only temporary success at best. Let’s search for a solution that deals with the root cause of the problem. Let’s deal with the anger that is causing the problem as a way of solving the problem. Let’s find out where the anger is coming from and resolve the problem. Let’s not get angry simply because others have acted out of their anger.

Occasionally someone responds in peace. A recent example is the Amish response to the school house shootings. They did not hate the shooter. They showed compassion and offered support for his family. They decided to put the incident behind them by taking down the school and just starting over. They dealt with the problem and moved on, learning what lessons they could from the incident. The only way that we can create peace is to act in peace. To just demand that someone else be peaceful, according to our rules, has never; nor will it ever, produce peace.

Creating a Peaceful New World
  World Peace

Our expectations can often get in the way of intimacy – especially when we’re not forthcoming with our mate or when expectations clash. We need to let our mate know what our expectations are, find what their expectations are, and then come to some agreement about them. Preferably, we should do this before we enter into any permanent or long-term relationship.

Your mate’s expectations will always be different than your own. To assume otherwise will only get you into trouble. Too often, we expect that our relationship will or should resemble how things were in our family or how “most couples” relate to each other in this society. We then become partners with someone expecting that they will think and act that way. But we have no right to expect that our perspective partner live up to our expectations, unless they agree to.

Anything you consider important in your relationship should be agreed to ahead of time by both of you. When things come up as your relationship progresses, they should be worked out mutually. We have no right to be angry just because our mate doesn’t want to do things our way. Their idea of what is important and what they should contribute are just as important as ours are. Expecting them to conform to our notion of how a partner should be, when they haven’t agreed to those expectations, and becoming angry when they don’t live up to them, is unfair and unreasonable.

Tips for Peaceful and Joyful Living
  Left Arrow

Monday: Think about how you want your relationship with your partner to be.

Tuesday: Think about the expectations you have for a relationship that are different from a typical relationship.

Wednesday: Think about the things you would like your partner to contribute to the relationship.

Thursday: Think about the things you are willing to contribute to the relationship.

Friday: Think about the differences you may have with your mate, or any perspective mate.

Saturday: Think about how you can work together to resolve differences.

Sunday: Picture yourself living in a perfect relationship with a loving mate.

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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