I learned something really interesting about myself this weekend. Well if I’m being completely honest I actually already knew. So maybe I shall say that I confirmed something this weekend.
Mike and I attended a workshop this weekend, focused on love and relationships. We delved into boundaries, being ok with saying no, communication tools, conflict and the needs we are filling by re-occurring cycles. We learned about authenticity – how to be authentic and allow your partner to also be authentic because relationships deserve authenticity. And we learned how to listen.
Now throughout the weekend Mike and I were usually separated and always working with new partners on different exercises. But for this exercise we worked together. And this is when my confirmation finally processed.
In this exercise we looked at our partner while they told a story. And the point of the exercise was to be a BAD listener. To do all the things that irritate and frustrate us when we’re talking to someone.
You know them. The critical listener – when you correct them on their grammar, criticize their body movements. The ‘all about me’ listener – when you turn everything that they say into something about you. The distracted listener - when you look at the car driving by behind them, pick fuzz off their shirt, look down and scroll through your phone. And the constantly interrupting listener – where you aren’t leaving space to actually listen and always thinking of what to say next, maybe finishing their sentences off for them, not allowing them to fully express themselves.
And you know what was sad? Being a bad listener to my husband was actually really easy for me. I consider myself a good listener, except for when it comes to one of the most important people in my life – my husband.
Throughout the exercise, I interrupted him to tell him he had dry skin on his face. When he was excited about something, I interrupted him and told him something about myself that was similar. Because we were in a safe space, I actually laughed and said this is really easy and he replied, “I know you do it all the time.”
And I couldn’t argue. But I did wonder why. Why do I listen the least to the person whose opinion and support matters the most to me out of anyone else in my life. And I realized that it’s because I take him for granted sometimes. I think he’ll always be there. It’s his job to listen to me. He has to love me – all of me. But why would I expect that of him and not give it fully back to him?
So tonight I made a vow to myself. To my marriage. To my husband. To listen. To really, truly listen. To close the laptop, put down my phone, sit down, look him in the eye and truly take in what he wants to share with me. Because he deserves to be heard and one day I might find myself wondering why he never tells me things anymore.