Based upon trials and errors discovered by Himay Zepeda.
Something few people tell you about getting married: once you get on that path, stuff gets more real. You start seeing things in the longview. You think about the future, wonder about the past, and balance it all in the present. You think about how little things today will multiply in the future (20 years from now, will he still make corny jokes? Answer: yep)
Nobody knows the answers. There may not even be any to share, just damn good questions to untangle together.
One thing to remember, especially when your Love is about to get the stamp of Officialness from the State of California, is why Love is a worthy challenge.
As I mentioned in my previous post on the Engaged Diaries, my lady and I have had our challenging times. We’ve been in situations where we don’t know what to do. (Not even Oprah could help!) But we never looked away, we never ignored the situation. We have always dealt with the tough conversations, and that has both tested and strengthened our resolve.
Some of these testing times happen when you think you are speaking in a different tongue. You do something, with your intent fully clear in your head, but somehow, through the distortion of the universe, she hears it differently. Your intent does not align with her perception. And then shit gets real.
We’ve been reading a book called “The Five Love Languages.” It deals exactly with this, how people communicate Love in different ways. Neither is right or wrong, just different. These differences often create misunderstandings, and that then creates a ruckus.
Let me give you an example. I love asking people I care about a lot of questions. I want to know what their day was like, what they are thinking, their ambitions, their fears, all of it. I do this at a pretty deep level with people I love.
So I did this with my lady, thinking I was making her feel good by giving her a space to tell me all about herself.
But my lady didn’t like answering these questions. She’s not used to them, and instead of feeling loving they feel overwhelming. I was puzzled by this. “How could you not want me to care about your day, or about you?!”
Doesn’t everyone love to talk about themselves? I know I do!
And there it was. Did you see what just happened? I started with “I.” This is something I liked, and so I was copying and pasting my preferences on to her. This doesn’t work, because while we both love each other, we are both two completely unique people.
We went back to the drawing board to talk this out. It turned out that she didn’t dislike my interest in her, but in the way I presented that interest. Questions like, “How was your day?,” and “What are you thinking about?” were actually not good questions. They were too broad, too much. Instead, we both now ask each other more thoughtful and focused questions:
“At what time today did you feel accomplished?”
“Did anything funny happen today?”
“Are you thinking about your workday?”
We did that because she told me, in more polite language, “This isn’t working for me.”
And I listened (eventually).
This has created a richer conversation. We’ve turned a general check-in into a more empathic conversation. I moved my approach from me getting to know about her about stuff to opening the door to letting her speak, her way. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m learning.
Love is thinking, What do they need or want from me?, not, What are my needs and wants? Love is being selfless, and being willing to become better for them. Love is being open–and thus, vulnerable–to doing things differently, because they need you to. Love is hard–and worth it.
Love is about them–love is about her. It starts there and ends there, and if you’re in a relationship that is fulfilling and strong, that is all you need. That’s enough to make it last for as long as you do.
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Photo: Flickr/Leland Francisco