How open are you in your partnership/relationship? I suppose I should define what I mean by “open”; being open is when you feel safe sharing deep concerns, emotions, problems, and hurts, along with inspirations, successes, congrats, thank yous, and kisses; it’s continuing to look at the other person with curiosity and fascination; it’s understanding that people change whether you’d like them to or not.
We often fall in love with a person for very specific reasons and our minds create a box in which we would define the other’s behavior as being acceptable. We are far more complex than this however and that box, however comforting, is a trap for both of you! The key through all of this openness is communication. Every day as we make decisions and choices, we have feelings and emotions which are the drivers of our behavior. Very often, we can see a thought and/or feeling manifested through body language even when the person we are observing is a complete stranger!
I am, by nature, an observer of human behavior. Since I was a boy I have found it fascinating to watch how people react in certain situations. Even more interesting to me is the motive behind the reaction, whether it be conscious or not. Recently, I had another of my fascinating observations. (the names will remain anonymous to protect the innocent)
While feeling a bit run down and trying to keep to myself, and shopping in the produce department of a prominent grocery store, I was searching for a couple avocados to make some guacamole and brighten my mood once I got home. An older couple approaches the avocado island (the woman in the lead, and the man in tow). Based on their interacting with each other, they appeared to have been together for quite some time and clearly out of any honeymoon phase they may have experienced in the springtime of their romance. The island is longer than wide as they split up and went different directions around the island. The man of late 50’s was seemingly assigned to avocados. The gray-haired woman was now on the opposite side of the island from her partner, practically standing next to me, and a good ten feet from the man picking through an insurmountable hill of delicious green globes of goodness. I hear her say, “Try these over here, they might be riper.” Triangulating myself in between the two, I see him squint, and say, “What?”. The woman immediately goes into exasperation and more loudly recants her original comment. The man murmurs something under his breath and petulantly begins walking around the island towards her position. The woman then turns to me and says (with no small amount of sarcasm), “I just love bringing him shopping.” I chose to keep any remarks to myself as I might have escalated things as the man approached.
What went wrong here? Simply, communication. It seems simple enough anyhow, right? This, however, is the result of spending years not stating your needs and accepting, if not understanding the needs of your partner. If there is blame to be doled out, it’s to both parties.
My observations and assumptions:
- The shopping expedition was most likely encouraged by the woman
- The man came along to be of service though probably would rather be doing anything else
- The man was given a task to complete whether or not he was knowledgeable enough to meet her standards
- The woman felt she was helping him find the right avocados
- The man was focused on the task at hand, as such, not listening to instruction
- The woman lost her patience
- The man lost his patience
- There was a large obstacle between the two people
- The woman became passive aggressive
- The man became defensive….and petulant
There is far more going on here, but I have a point to make, and you’d like to move on at that some point.
- The man was either forced into servitude or was trying to do the chivalrous thing and be of service to his lady. Either way, deep down he doesn’t wish to go shopping at a grocery store in general…maybe if she invited him to Cabela’s…
- The man has not ever fully expressed his disdain for shopping to his partner
- The woman, knowing that the grocery store is not his area of expertise, she assigns him a job
- The man, knowing he is out of his element accepts the task instead of stating his lack of skill in this field
- The woman micromanages him
- Mutual elevated blood pressure ensues
The moral of the story is that it is paramount to speak(communicate) when something is not serving you so that other options can be considered. Staying silent will create resentment and resistance in the relationship. Also, know your partner. Assigning a task to your partner who hasn’t the skill or know-how without given a proper education is setting them up for failure, furthermore, micromanaging after the task is assigned is salt in the wound and is a self-worth destroyer. When we ask for help, it is critical to receive that help without judgment, or risk wounding the kind heart who gives, and (may I go so far as to suggest?) show gratitude, regardless of the outcome. Finally, lighten up! Of course, if this is stemming from animosity which has built up over the years, there’s much work to be done. If this is a random occurrence, ask yourself why you are about to behave this way beforehand, then ask yourself if you’d want someone you love treating you with disdain! Be patient, be open, be accepting, and love your partner for who they are, and help them feel good about themselves.
You’re partners for dang sake! Act like it!