In all of the years that I have taught relationship classes I have heard just about everything that goes on in the day-to-day lives of those in a relationship, and I hear them over and over. I sincerely believe we all should write a book or at least a paper on how we deal with the problems in our relationships for others to learn from, because it seems like most all deal with the same issues, sooner or later and in some aspect or another. The thing is, these issues are not new, people have been having relationships since the beginning of time, and the ones that pop-up in our lives today are probably close to the same that happened 2,000 years ago.
For example, just yesterday, we were at a friend’s house for dinner, it was just the four of us. After dinner, the men were shooting pool and the women were on the patio talking. Our host’s husband walked out on the patio, for no apparent reason and asked, “Honey, are you going to do the dishes?” The war began, something I’ve seen over and over, how one little question can take on the War of the Worlds.
First, I’ll have to say the kitchen was a mess. When she cooks, every pot and dish, ever item in the cabinets and refrigerator come out and are all over the counters. Playing pool, he had a bird’s eye view of the kitchen. So, the question might have been directed toward her cooking style, but why analyze why he asked, the thing is, he did.
Her response? “I was going to spray gasoline and burn them!”
His response? “I only asked a simple question!”
Then of course there had to be a he said, she said period until she threw her hands up, said a few cuss words, poured herself a glass of wine and came back to the patio to continue our conversation, only after a few choice words regarding her other half.
Part of what she said was she knew him, she knew what he meant, she knew what he was thinking, and I thought that was all too sad.
If you are in a relationship, the time that you have taken to read this, your spouse, partner, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. has changed at least one-half of a degree. Yet, one way we throw up road blocks to our significant others changing is claiming we know them, not giving them a chance to express the change. We claim to know them but we do not, not totally, because they, like us are constantly growing, changing and healing and hurting and healing some more.
We can really hold people back from growing, at least for a while, by not allowing them the freedom to mean something different when they say something we’ve heard before or by seeing them do something we have seen them do before and assume we know what it means, when the meaning or their intent has changed.
If we really want people to change, we will leave the door open to that change by always asking questions, always asking what they mean. If we do not have time to ask and assume we know, we might as well literally build a roadblock to any positive changes we desire in the relationship.
Also, you might be able to hold people back from growing and changing for a little while, but sooner or later all of the subdued changes and maturity will burst out and then the two people will look at each other and ask, “Who are you? Have we grown that far apart? Guess what happens next?
As far as the conversation above, it was a simple yes or no question, so I wondered why she didn’t simply provide a yes or no answer, it would have changed the entire response and not have ruined her evening:
“Honey, are you going to do the dishes?”
“Have any idea when you might?”
“No, I haven’t thought about it, maybe tomorrow, I can let you know if you want?”
By this time, I’m sure her other half would be smiling because it is somewhat humorous, but he asked a yes or no question and received a yes or no answer. Where is the fight in that?
Some might say there are underlining issues, if so, why add to them? Why not just offer a yes or a no?
But few people provide yes or no answers, when asked a yes or no question. In fact, most people get defensive simply by hearing the question, which is so unnecessary. The definition of defensiveness is basically where someone is pleading with another to accept them and trying to prove they are acceptable and ok, and the other should like them. The thing is, every breathing person on earth is fine the way they are this moment, this day. Sure, they may have some things to work on, we all do, but just for this moment, just for this hour, this day they are fine and letting those we care about know this is the greatest gift we can give anyone, and it can all start with a simple question or answer.