Sunday, October 16, 2016

Making Miracles (Part I), Coming Home, Day #15

A miracle happened yesterday.
A miracle prayed for 20 years.
But I didn’t realize it until today.

My husband and I are alike in a couple of ways (we LOVE to laugh!) but different in most.
Most noticeably, our communication styles are opposite.
Mine is to com.mun.i.cate.  A lot.  Endlessly, in fact.  
For hours.
And hours.
And hours.
And…well, you get the picture.

My husband’s is to "do."  
Action first.
A lot. 
In place of talking.
For hours.
And hours.
And hours. 
And…again with the picture.

Sometimes these qualities, though opposite, are complimentary.
Take for example, when one of our kids is struggling.
I’m happy to listen and talk and listen some more and talk some more and hold them when they need the love – then…you guessed it!  Listen and talk some more.
On the other hand, I’m generally so spent from talking and listening and empathizing that I can’t DO anything else by the end.  In swoops my husband, taking a trip to the grocery store, getting stuff for dinner, often making it and then…still not done DOING...will run to get ice cream at 10PM if that’s what the kid needs.

It works really well for us sometimes.

Other times, however, (read: when I’m the one struggling) it doesn’t work.  Period.
Because my sweet husband will DO anything I need him to.  
But the listening and empathizing does not come as naturally.
“I don’t need you to do anything or make suggestions on how to fix this problem,” I have said probably 1000 times over the years.  “I just need you to listen and empathize and be on my side.”
“Well, you know it’s my nature to fix a problem,” he will respond.  “I can’t be something I’m not.”
This broken record has played over and over again for twenty years.
Never to either of our satisfaction.

He feels criticized and I feel misunderstood and the divide grows.

A few years ago, I just stopped trying to “help him” understand. 
(She says tongue in cheek as it most certainly has not felt like a help to him at ALL!) 
Instead, I just started praying.
“God, this clearly is not working.  He’s unhappy and I’m unhappy.  We just don’t understand one another.  If it’s gonna get fixed, you’re gonna have to fix it.  And you're going to need to speak to him in a way he will understand.”
Then on we would go in our sadly dysfunctional cycle.

Until a few weeks ago…

My husband took a trip to Seattle for the conclusion to a leadership training he has been participating in for some time.   We don’t get to talk much while he’s gone as both of our schedules are quite full.  But every now and then, we’ll stay up talking about what he has been learning, and this trip was no exception.  
I love these times.  
We are both consummate learners, and I live vicariously through him in these times. 

Among other topics, one of the most important ones they covered was that of being an “active listener.” Most of the people taking these seminars are, not only leaders at their place of work but, managers who need to be tuned in to those who work under their purvey.
They need to be able to listen without suggestion or criticism or one-upmanship.
They need to listen only.
No judgment.
No solution.
No donning of the rose-colored glasses.

When my husband was telling me about this  portion of their training, he said, 
“I started thinking about how each of these qualities – the judgment or unrequested solutions among others – aren’t helping the issues that the person talking to us is after.  In fact, I’ve started thinking about how this type of active listening could really help me in my relationships at home.  Especially with Braden.  And even with you.”

(I’m crying unbeknownst to him on the other end of the line by now.)

“Like when Brae tells me he’s had a bad day, I think it would be more helpful if I just say, “Ugh, that’s the worst.” Instead of making a suggestion as to how he could have handled that day differently.”

(Sobbing by now across the miles…)

I was too stunned to remember what I answered but it was something to the tune of, 
“That sounds like a really good idea.  I’m sure he’d appreciate it.”

Little did I know, my prayers were beginning to be answered.
And a miracle was about to occur.

{Please come back tomorrow to read 
Part II to this post.
And know that, whether you know it or not, 
your prayers will be answered...
when you least expect it.
Thanks for reading.}

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