A couple of days ago my husband Tom and I sat down with our calendars to make sure we were on the same page, knew who was doing what when, and make any needed adjustments. Noticing that he was going to be gone for a couple of days, I made a request. Rather than leaving late in the morning as he was planning to do, would be willing to leave several hours earlier, giving me a little more of some much needed time to myself. Could that work for him?
In the past I’ve not always asked in what you might call a gracious manner, which as you might suspect, made him feel a little less than welcome in his own home. Thankfully, I’m finally learning to make my requests in a more loving and respectful way. After thinking about it, he said that he could, and in fact, doing so would give him time to make a much needed run to the dump with the garbage and recycling. It sounded to me like we were on the same page, and that we had a plan that met both of our needs. I walked away from our calendaring session feeling great about our interchange, and looking forward to a couple of days with the house to myself. As much as I love the people I love, including Tom, when I don’t have time away from them, including Tom, I’m not much good to anyone, including Tom, or myself for that matter. As far as I was concerned, things were, as they say, all good.
Until this morning when it was time for him to leave town.
Coming back from a morning walk with Gracie-the-chocolate-labradoodle, already feeling my inner space opening up, Tom was just finishing loading the back of the red pickup with the recycling, and he didn’t appear to be the happiest of campers. Checking in with him, he wasn’t. He didn’t like the feeling of being asked to leave as soon as possible. That was news to me. The story as I saw it, was that we were both good with our plan, but now that we were in the midst of it, the real scoop was that he wasn’t good with it.
At that point things could have gone from bad to worse, but rather than get defensive, my usual go-to-strategy, I worked to listen without judgement and let him say more. We both stayed in the conversation, and by the time he drove out of the driveway we both felt heard. Because we both felt heard, we also felt connected. Because we felt connected, we now have good fodder for further conversation and better communication going forward.
The moral of the story?
The story isn’t always the real scoop.