Numerous comedy sketches have been created to deal with the miscommunication between couples. Perhaps you have seen the new invention called the “Manslator” (A Woman Language Translator).
I first saw it on Facebook.
I hope that this made you laugh. Seriously though, as a marriage and family therapist, I also find it troubling. I don’t want couples believing that there is always a hidden message to be decoded whenever they talk to their mate. I don’t want them to distrust the words coming out of their partner’s mouth. I want them to see each other as honest, clear communicators.
When partners are able to speak the truth about themselves to their partner, they are at their absolute best.
It is an intimate relational moment. The person talking is letting their partner into their heart. They are letting them hear about their feelings and their thoughts. The speaker is sharing his or her personal perspective.
Inevitably, if you are the listener, something your partner shares will make you aware that they don’t necessarily feel the way you do or view the world as you do. What then?
Oprah asked the Reverend Billy Graham the secret of love. After all he and Ruth had been married fifty –six years at that time. He smiled at Oprah and replied, “Ruth and I are happily incompatible!”
Uniqueness and differences are what make love possible!
Unfortunately differences force the listener to confront their own anxiety. Can we love each other and not see eye to eye on issues? Differences also bring us face to face with our fear of conflict.
Harriet Learner, PhD. writes about this,
“Humans don’t tend to do well with differences.
We learn to hate a difference, glorify a difference,
exaggerate a difference, deny, minimize or eradicate
a difference. We may engage in nonproductive
efforts to change, fix or shape up the person who
isn’t doing or seeing things our way.”
Freedom is a prerequisite of love.
Differences can fascinate us, make us aware that we are not the same person and provide the space in which passion can grow. When marriage muzzles either spouse, it is a tragedy. So what can I do when I’m listening to my mate share something that temporarily makes me feel slightly off-balance?
I can be curious.
I can ask questions.
I can refuse to personalize what they are saying.
I can allow my mate to be him/herself.
I don’t make the conversation about me. Instead for that moment, I make it about my partner.
When couples succeed at this discipline, the speaker feels respected and deeply understood. The listener is also aware that they have made space in their relationship for the other’s feelings and truth.
A moment like this can be transformative.
In spite of the fact that you may not see eye to eye, an intimate moment, an empathetic moment, a connecting moment has just happened!
We don’t have to see eye to eye in order to walk hand in hand!
Are you willing to begin this journey?
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…