20 March 2014
Practicing What We Preach
Mara and I had what could have been, under many other circumstances, and in any different relationship, a very difficult conversation about what we each contribute to the blog.
I say that it could have been very difficult, because this is one of those moments where one person's ego can feel totally and completely attacked, and defensiveness can kick in immediately.
In this case, it was my weaknesses that were on display and that needed to be addressed, and the level of input that I was offering at the moment that needed to be increased.
Like I said, this is when either one of our egos could have reared their ugly little (or big) heads. Mara's approach to me could have been a display of "I'm giving this, I'm doing that, I've invested time and energy, I've given and you haven't and because of that I'm upset."
No matter how kind or aggressive Mara's tone was, my response easily could have been to get super defensive, to push the blame somewhere else, to express what I'm doing that she's not in other areas of our lives.
And then it could have turned into a fight, and hurt feelings, and resentment, and disappointment, and disunity.
But instead, while she was kindly telling me what she needed, I tried to calmly listen. I recognized that she was right, and that I needed to do something about it. I decided not to get defensive, or to resist her suggestions. Instead I thanked her, expressed my desire to be better, we talked about some very simple things I could do that would contribute to that. And we hugged and kissed and expressed gratitude to each other.
Later, I went to the bathroom, and as I was washing my hands, I looked in the mirror and said out loud "You are truly a lucky man, you have a woman perfectly suited for you, she is a gift, she is patient with your weaknesses, she addresses you in love, and tells you where she needs you. You have everything in the world to be grateful for." It was partially directed at myself, because I wanted to commit to myself to be better about picking up the slack that I had allowed. It was also partly directed at God, because I wanted to recognize my blessings and give them voice.
Later I came out and after we had some other constructive conversations, Mara kindly offered an apology in case I was offended or hurt in any way by her direct manner. I told her "Not in the least! In fact you should have heard the conversation I just had with myself in the bathroom!" And I told her all about it.
Mara and I truly believe in using a language of Love. We believe in trying to do our best to get our egos out of the way when the other person is offering a suggestion, or even criticism (whether it is deserved or not). We believe in expressing gratitude even after hard discussions. We believe in being partners, and in helping each other address areas of weakness with kindness, concern, and as much assistance as the other person is capable of offering, while recognizing all along that whether or not change actually happens is entirely up to the person who needs to make the changes. And if the person that needs to make changes doesn't, we don't believe in harping on or nagging the other person. That only creates resentment. We believe in persuasion, long-suffering, and kindness.
It makes even the hard conversations something that builds our marriage, and knits the two of us closer to each other in Love.
What about you? Do you let your ego get too involved when you offer or receive criticism? What are you going to do to change that in the next conversation you have with someone you love? Let us know in the comments.