A couple weeks ago, some friends of ours asked if we wanted to double date with them and attend a one night marriage conference. It promised to be hilarious, and helpful. I was hesitant to ask my honey if he would go, knowing that he was teaching the next day at church and he usually likes that night before to soak in his studies. I asked, he agreed. I was thankful. I learned at the convention, that he was making an “emotional connection” with me with that decision to do something with his wife, even though he may have preferred to do something else.
The laughter started in the car on the way there. The four of us rode together. We talked about this and that, finally landing on music trivia. Who wrote what songs, when, etc. You can guess where that led… eventually we all broke out into song in that mid-sized sedan space. It didn’t surprise us that the theme song for the night was the very one we had been singing. The laughter continued through the night, including the moment when our friend’s husband leaned over to apologize for bringing us to a Mormon church function (no mention of who sponsored it on the info packets we got). We laughed and said it was fine. We may not agree with the Mormon doctrines, but we do know the Mormon church does “family and marriage” really well and we respect that. We would just chew up the marriage advice and spit out any doctrinal stuff.
We ended the night with a quick stop at Baskin Robbins for a scoop (or two) of ice cream, and continued laughing as we made the dark drive home. All of us concluded that we came home with some great resources for our relationships. Some things we learned about: men and women communicate for different reasons. Men collect data, women want to just interact. I learned that if I want my husband to really hear something I have to say (our grandson has had a high fever for the last few days), that I need to make sure I have his full attention before saying it (ie. Make sure the football game is over before sharing it). Their brains don’t multi task like ours. And I learned that if I want time with him, don’t ever say “Honey, can we talk? Or we need to talk.” That immediately triggers fight or flight in them with thoughts like, “what did I do wrong?” “Is this going to take hours?” “Where is the exit?” Instead, ask I can ask him if he can set aside an hour after dinner on Tuesday night so we can just chat about life. It answers the questions. What? Talk about life. When? Tuesday night. How long? An hour. They can be prepared, not surprised. Oh! And my favorite, reverse your buts! Don’t say, “I love you BUT you are driving me crazy!” Say “You are driving me crazy BUT I love you.” I once heard it said that most people only hear what comes after the word BUT. If that is true, let’s make sure what they hear is I love you. What a beautiful way to let our speech say what we mean, while building them up instead of tearing them down!
Many years ago, when I realized men were not mind readers (why do we grow up thinking that? It is so unfair to them.) I started telling my honey what I needed. For instance, “Baby, I need to have a good cry. Could you please hold me in your arms, let me cry on your shoulder, and when I am done, just tell me everything will be ok. You don’t need to fix the problem I am crying about.” Honestly, what I learned last night takes that to a whole new level for me. I am excited to see where our love goes from here.
Thought for the day: if you are married, write down seven things about your spouse that you love. Start it out with “I love 1, 2, 3, … about my spouse.” If you are a single parent, do this for each of your children, if you are single without kids, do it for your parents. Then, leave it someplace for them to find, like a love letter, and see what happens with that relationship.