I was blown away by the title of this BLOG when a colleague of mine first shared it with me. We were engaged in conversation about being married, the ins and outs of having a job and/or career, helping people and enjoying life. After exchanging a few stories about our spouses and the experiences we have had with them, I began to take over the questioning as I was under the impression that she knew something that I did not and I wanted the free education that I knew she could provide me. She had something special with her spouse. Many of us do. But her perspective and grasp of those things that really mattered exceeded what I had gleaned from conversations with others in the past.
She went on to tell me about how her spouse had once been married to someone else, had children, but then things just did not work out. Not a surprising story for me, as I had been a child of divorce, just like many of the friends I made along my journey.
Divorce is almost commonplace these days. A sad, but true fact. I used to shutter at the word. Many of my relatives had preached that one should never get divorced. That it is considered an ultimate sin. But then I woke up. I realized that such a perspective is tainted. Things happen. It does not mean that the two people in the marriage did not try to make things work. Quite the contrary. Yes, there are people who don’t try, who give up, who fail “backwards” and not “forwards.” But not everyone. For every relationship that goes sour, there is the potential for a new one to be formed. For my friend and colleague, this was never more clear.
Our conversation continued, and while it may have only lasted no more than maybe 10-minutes, those 10-minutes were all I needed to change my perspective. I really believed her when she said, “Why would we fight? There is no reason for that.” It was awesome to hear those words and to truly understand what she meant. A light bulb went on inside my head and more importantly my heart.
I thought about all the petty quarrels my wife and I had had over our 10+ years of marriage. The ridiculousness of how to spend money, how to react to the kids when they did something to make us mad (which in my house is daily), what to eat, and more than anything the decision to visit or not visit certain family members. What was even more impressive was my tone of voice and my body language. I was not doing very well when it came to truly communicating and connecting. Perhaps you can relate to some of these things.
But my friend was able to PROCESS all of these things as non-sense. She was able to look past the details, and at the big picture. For me, that is often a challenge. She knew that it was easy to turn the other cheek. To smile. To open the two ears we have, and to close the one mouth, so as to “first seek to understand and then to be understood” (thank you Stephen Covey!).
I can tell you that I have gotten a little better each and every day after having those subtle words in the title of this BLOG imparted upon me. I repeatedly force myself to first listen, to PROCESS, and to understand, before seeking to be understood. I think about the tone in my voice, the position of my eyes and arms, as well as my posture. I have a long way to go, but I am optimistic.
I challenge you to look at your relationships with such a perspective. To value what the other person brings to the table. To put his or her “emotions” above your “reactions.” Leave the fighting to those in the ring!