The Narrative Pursuit of Relational Wisdom
Since the time of Aristotle, wisdom has played a key role in our attempt to understand the positive nature of human behavior. In the past decade, professionals in psychology and related fields have expanded their interest in the empirical and theoretical pursuit of wisdom. The relational dimension of wisdom and its narrative ecology have received less attention. This article integrates previous work on storied approaches to positive functioning in committed partnerships and proposes relational wisdom to be a master virtue of relationship development, one that can be cultivated across the lifespan of the partnership. The aspects of relational wisdom, such as self-reflection, attunement to self and other, the balance of conflicting partner aims, the interpretation of rules and principles in light of the uniqueness of each situation, and the capacity to learn from experience are identified and explored through the analysis of couple stories. Wisdom is seen to evolve through dialogue, and the resulting stories can serve as touchstones to what is most precious and vital in the relationship as well as guides for action through challenges and conflict.
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