A common scenario?
She logs into online banking and discovers that her husband spent a lot of money at Canadian Tire. She feels tension and anger crawling up inside of her. “It was for the car again. This damn car is more important than me! He always thinks about the car so much that he even forgets about our anniversary.” her inner self-talk states. She hears the door slamming. Her husband is coming into the office and before he can even say “hello” she’s already yelling at him: “Why can’t you close the door quietly? You forgot to put your shaving foam back on the shelf! You left your dirty socks on the bed! Who do you think you are?!”
Without saying a word he leaves the house again and meets his friend in a bar. “Can somebody understand those women?” he asks bitterly and sad. He pulls two theatre tickets out of his pocket and tears them into little pieces, commenting “Everything seems to go wrong in our marriage lately.”
I ask you:
– Why didn’t she tell him the reason for her anger? Why didn’t she say: “Please let me know when you’re taking such a big amount out of our joint account and what you intend to buy.” or “I’m feeling so sad and hurt because you forgot our anniversary.”
– Why is she assuming that the car would be more important than her?
– Why didn’t he tell her that he intended to buy something expensive.
– Why can’t they both sit down and talk about their thoughts and feelings?
It’s very easy: they are lacking CONVERSATION and ACTIVE LISTENING SKILLS!
Conversation & Active Listening Skills
1) Look at each other! (eye-contact is not constantly necessary)
2) Have a relaxed and open posture!
3) Paraphrase and Clarify! (Everybody has a different picture of the world)
She: “For me love is when you tell me that you love me 3 times a day!” He: “For me loving you means kissing you before I leave for work and when I come home in the evening.”
4) Check your assumptions! (they might be wrong)
She: “You’re spent so much money for the car that it must be more important than me!” He: “I had a flat tire in Brandon. But I was so happy because it just happened on the parking lot in front of Canadian Tire and I could buy a new one and had it fixed there.”
5) Walk in your partner’s shoes! (reflect the content and the feelings)
She: “You look very tired and stressed today! I know that the best way to relax for you is to go out with a good friend for a beer.” He: “Thanks for your understanding. I was afraid you would be mad at me if I would leave again.”
Don’t you think that would make a difference? I bet it would! Give it a try!