Allowing your partner to be: No one will discover who they are if someone is always telling them who they should be.
This has been one of the biggest lessons Marin and I have had the opportunity to learn. Thank goodness it’s over… It is over right? Oddly enough, when Marin rolled over last night and thanked me for my participation in it, I was surprised to realize that the integration of the simple aspects of this approach had all but taken the reigns in my perception. At least I think it has.
A few short years ago, my attitude towards Marin was slightly skeptical at best. Arguably she had more dramatic “flaws” back then ;-)…. regardless though, I wouldn’t let her get away with anything. That’s actually how I felt. She would get in one of her “moods” and I felt obligated to inform her that she was acting like an absolute twit. Arguments would ensue over why she was or wasn’t, who’s fault it was, and how I didn’t approach her correctly.
A long arduous road was set out on then by two weary travelers from a culture long since driven numb by judgement and levels. The road was anything but smooth.
The first lesson she taught me was: listen. This is soon to be proven by scientists as an ability altogether unnatural to a man’s natural instincts. Until that report comes out though, it might be smart for you fellas to be all ears (as much as possible) to your female counterpart’s seemingly circular, out loud thinking. What I found is, the more she knows I’m listening, the more she talks on without end…. initially anyways, after which, the time decreases dramatically for her to feel like she has been heard. Allowing people that space goes a long way towards them realizing for themselves the real source of their frustrations or upset.
Quite possibly the hardest idea to get over is that whatever they say, it’s not personal! Even when they exclaim, “You are a complete slob!” Sounds fairly pointed, I know, but what they are really trying to say is, “I don’t like living in a messy house, and I am tired of picking up after others.” See? nothing to do with you, they’re just expressing their wants. Oddly enough, they don’t often see the difference in this language either, or even realize that the second option is what they are really upset about.
So this can be a two way street: you realizing they don’t mean you, and them realizing they don’t mean you. If you’re listening, and catch the finger pointing, you can relax and realize what they are really saying without becoming defensively enraged yourself.
When the kettle simmers down a bit you can proudly re-word their concerns in a less personal way. Generally speaking, the simple idea that you understand their distress glazes over the fact that you left yourself out of the cause. Peoples perceptions are their own, allowing someone to have their own point of view without diving in to defend yours, gives them the opportunity to see the reality behind their own emotions.
Lastly, leave the tool box in the shed. You cannot give her your perception of her problem, unless of course she’s asking you calmly for it (which could be a trap mind you).
Kahlil Gilbran put it perfectly in his book “The Prophet”, when he said, “The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space, but he cannot give you his understanding. The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space, but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it. And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither. For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.”
So unless you are rashly brave, or extremely foolish, give the person space to find their own conclusions. I know how tempting it can be to want to address the issue on the spot, “Nothing a little duct tape can’t patch up“, but unless you are planning on using it to strap them to a chair and do your own cooking for the rest of your life, I suggest you weather the storm as graciously as possible. Remember, without the rain, the fruit of your crop withers in the sun. Lookie there, I can talk like a prophet too.
Bottom line gang: Giving a wife, child, or friend space to feel out their own story, empowers them to write their own way out of it, learning the lessons that are the reward of every problem in life that we face.
Thank you for your thoughts and stories, they teach me daily.