Disclaimer: This is a story I wrote while reflecting on a brilliant communication tool to stop arguments before they start, to be used in relationships. It’s inspired by the work of Gary Chapman, very loosely based on true events, not of Jairek and I, but a great story none the less, enjoy.
The phrase “Can we talk” has become forbidden in our relationship.
In the beginning we were madly in love. You know that sweet love you can never imagine ending. Things were absolutely perfect, neither of you could do no wrong. Arguments never happened. You agreed with me on everything, it was the relationship people dream of and we found it when we met each other. I remember in the beginning, with such enthusiasm I’d ask,
“Want to come to my parents house for the weeken…”
“Yes” you replied, before I could even finish the sentence. 12 months later we were engaged…
About a year into marriage, everything felt so different. Thanksgiving came around, we spent with his family, even though it had been years since I saw mine for Thanksgiving.. So, I figured we’d do Christmas with mine.. You were reluctant, I was confused, I cried, I thought to myself “he loved my family, he used to love to go see them…”
Beliefs of how we should spend holidays ended up being completely different. Then beliefs as to how we should spend ‘downtime’ together we bickered over. Arguments happened more often than not. He was obsessed with sports, I wanted to go to the beach. How we spend money, who cooks and clean, it became one thing after another.
It became a power struggle.
What was most surprisingly was that it was less about major things like holidays, and more about the stupidest stuff.
Have we really become that couple? Does he even care about my feelings? I started to question if we were meant to be together. Did he even care, did he love me anymore?
If felt like we were always on edge or in the midst of a argument whenever we had to make a decision together. Now I understood we may not agree on everything, but what hurt the most was not feeling heard, understood, or appreciated.
I hate to admit it but when I wasn’t feeling heard, understood, or appreciated, I resented when he expected it from me. Reciprocating genuine enthusiasm for his requests felt impossible.
When you shared with us the idea of Listening Time, that is time to just listen to your partner… I figured I had nothing to lose at this point. What if I allowed them to share to get his perspective first, understand it and appreciate it. It removed defensiveness and stopped arguments before they started.
I started asking him his thoughts or beliefs on a topic I felt conflicted on before sharing mine. I took time to make sure he felt understood and appreciated. I allowed myself to be open to a new perspective rather than assuming I had the best idea. Once he was done sharing, he’d naturally ask me “What are your thoughts?” It became such a refreshing new way to work through conflicting beliefs or ideas.
It’s absolutely transformed how we communicate. These days when either of us are feeling conflicted on something, we ask the other “when is a good time for listening time?” We let each other know know when it’s a good time to listen to the others thoughts on a topic. He doesn’t feel attacked anymore. Instead he feels appreciated. We’re finally on the same team again. it’s all about Listening Time.