|Photo by Jurvetson on Flickr|
One of the blocks we've stumbled upon in this process is asking for what we want. You know, making a clear, precise request for the other person to do something differently - without sounding critical or choking up because it's too darn embarrassing.
Then, quite by accident, we stumbled upon this little strategy - a bit of gentle, playful, coaching that really seems to work!
It happened after one of those disappointing evenings where the romance, instead of taking off as we had hoped, seemed to fizzle (not that any of you have ever had one, but we 'occasionally' do).
The next day, my partner had the temerity to ask about it, to wonder what had been going on for me. Such nerve! Such audacity! Breaking the cardinal rule of letting sleeping dogs lie (even if the sleeping part did not work out so well...). As usual, I felt embarrassed and unwilling to share.
"Ummm... Do we really have to talk about it?" I said, "I mean, like you said, these things sometimes don't go as planned, right? How about we just forget about it and move on?"
But my partner was on a mission. We had agreed, recently, to work on various aspects of our relationship, including communication, and he wasn't going to give up as easily as usual. So, he persisted, and I resisted - until I finally thought "What the heck. I'll share."
So I did, telling him what the action was that triggered me - and the "story" I told myself about it (that he didn't really care about my feelings or needs in that moment).
And lo and behold, he seemed hurt and defensive.
"I can't believe you'd actually think that about me - after all these years..." he began.
Oh brother, I thought. This is exactly why I wasn't gonna share in the first place. I wish he was the kind of person who'd express appreciation, instead, telling me he was grateful for my honesty or something like that.
And then, without realizing I was doing it (maybe I was calling upon my experience of "coaching" workshop participants during role-plays?) I said, gently and without criticism or ire:
"So - this is the part where you thank me for being honest and vulnerable with you."
This had the immediate effect of stopping him in his tracks. Inside the slow, ticking pause that ensued, I could almost hear the gears turning. And then, just like that, he shifted.
"Well," he said, "I actually do appreciate you sharing and being vulnerable. I know you didn't wanna to talk about it. And I'm really glad you did, so I could know what happened and how to do it differently next time. I don't ever wanna do anything that makes you feel I don't care about your needs or feelings."
And then, we both smiled, because we realized what had just happened.
Then, excitedly, we began to talk about our discovery.
"That really worked for me!" he said. "And I'd be open to that kind of gentle coaching in other areas. How about you?"
"Yes, I would," I realized.
Since then, this little trick has worked quite well when a "wish" bubbles up in either of us.
Bonus: it's been working with the kids too (they even tend to do whatever it is with a smile).
So, to review, the strategy is to say: "THIS IS THE PART WHERE YOU..."
as in "This is the part where you grab me and take me to bed!"
or "This is the part where you close the laptop and come dance with me in the living room."
or "This is the part where you say 'Mommy - thank you for putting it away for me.' "
If you decide to use this little trick, I hope you have some fun with it - in bed and out.
And do write in and share how it went!