CAVEAT: I’m writing from the perspective and a partner in a relationship with a safe person who respects my boundaries and is actively pursuing a healthy relationship with equal power dynamics.
5 things Charlie and I are doing during this season of change to help ease the stress and stay connected. 1. Before we have a conversation/check in about what we’re feeling we ask what the other person how much they’re ready to hear. Are they capable of handing criticism right then? Or are they needing to vent/share process and not receive feedback. Realizing how different those needs are is huge. 2. Thanking each other for the hard extra work we’re both taking on. Noticing it. And pointing it out. 3. Whenever the work load is less, put phones down and away and focus. 4. Prioritizing getting outside together with the kids above home projects. 5. Remembering affection. When we’re both in this go-go-go, work work work, mode… we can become ships in the night. Instead we’re stopping for those brief in-between moments and taking them. ❤️ Beautiful and accurate art by @amandaoleander ❤️
I come home from a class ready to tell Charlie ALL about it. About the weird joke I made. About the flow that didn’t work. About the compliment that filled me up so much. About the amazing students. About my anxiety about numbers. About no one showing up. About everyone showing up. I’m ready to UNLOAD IT ALL. And as the words just fall out of my mouth faster than I can even kind of follow his reactions I see him tense, I see him relax, and then he begins to offer advice.
Maybe try saying this instead? What about that pose you showed me? Would it be a big deal to cancel that class if it isn’t very popular?
And I deflate. Done. Ready to retreat.
I am, at my very core, a verbal processor. To work out anything… I talk through it. To myself, to Charlie, to my Mom and Dad. To make decisions, move forward, and feel like I’ve worked through my options; I talk. And often, I just need to talk. Say the wrong thing. Say all of the things. Before I come to spot of even knowing what I was trying to say in the first place. So feedback? Absolutely not what I (always) need.
Consequently we’ve instituted a bit of a communication guideline. At the beginning of a bigger conversation, where one of us has a lot to put out there (benign or big) we check in. It often sounds a bit like this;
“I have a lot to say here, and I don’t really know where I want to end up. Can you just listen to me for a bit and I can ask you questions after?”
“I feel really strongly about this. I don’t want criticism or feedback yet. But after I put it out there. Then I might be ready. Or it might take me a couple of days.”
And then? We respect that request. Sometimes even just by the end of talking we both feel more ready for that feedback. But often times I just need to vent, without being fixed. And he needs the same. Space to process and be heard, without being told “well, duh, have you tried this?!”
This short and sweet new guideline for our communicating has opened up really big doors of vulnerability and space with process together. Hopefully it’s a helpful tidbit for you too!