While the title of this article involves listening, its genesis began with speaking.
After five years of marriage, I had reached a point where I had gotten a little irritated with my wife’s constant suggestions on how task “xyz” could have been done better or how driving through a neighborhood instead of around it could have saved 2 minutes off our driving time. I would respond to her with feedback that was logical at times and not so logical at others. The bottom line was that I refused to be henpecked and respond with, “yes dear”.
After I finally had enough of these constant, mini-arguments. I decided that I was going to confront her about it. But one thing I’ve learned in the fifth year of my second marriage is that words mean a lot to women. It’s just how they’re wired. So, I decided to implement the first of the now famous, “Four Agreements”. For those of you who are not familiar with the book or need a refresher, here is a synopsis of the Four Agreements as defined by the author Don Miguel Ruiz.
- Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
- Don’t Take Anything Personally
- Don’t Make Assumptions
- Always Do Your Best
If I was going to be impeccable with my word, I figured that needed to get my facts straight and be able to describe my complaints clearly and in a well thought out manner. To do this, I realized that I had to LISTEN closely.
Whenever my wife irked me with a comment, I analyzed her statement thoroughly. Why did it bother me? When I spoke to her about it later what would I say? After a couple of weeks of close analysis, I found that most of her irritating comments fell into one of the following categories.
- A trivial statement that could be taken the wrong way if someone was sensitive about a subject.
- A mildly irritating comment that really wasn’t worth bringing up.
- Actually a good idea.
Who’d a thunk it? I was sort of ………..not wrong but…….. let’s just say I learned an important lesson: Before I could be impeccable with my word, I needed to be impeccable with my listening.
I still don’t say, “yes dear” when my wife makes a good suggestion, but I have found a way to maintain peace in my relationship. I figured that it was worth sharing.
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