It is extremely important to learn to understand other people. But how? Before you jump to conclusions, ask yourself whether you have understood your partner.
Have you heard your partner right? Is it really so? It is always important because you start to communicate. And at different stages of relations development unexpected situations and behavior might arise which could be perceived by the partners differently.
It seems appropriate to start with one story.
A young married couple came for a therapy session. They just got married for about a month ago. Now, however, they are getting a divorce. What had happened?
— He doesn’t love me.
The husband also wonders:
— Yes, I don’t have the slightest idea what had happened. On the third day she stopped talking to me. She went completely silent and did not explain what was going on. I tried to do something nice for her but she just ignored me. But once I stopped tip-toeing around her and started doing something around the house she began to follow me around. But then she got tired of it and quitted doing that. Then I was following her like a puppy again!
And so they were following each other like this for a month, then they both grew tired of it. The couple came to the registry office to get their divorce papers, and an office clerk said: “It is a very important decision, you have a month to think it all over. Why don’t you go to a family psychologist?” So they are here and I ask the wife what happened. She said:
— On the third day after the wedding he brought a juicer home.
— So what?
— What do you mean “So what”?! Don’t you understand what he wanted to say by this gift?
— Well, he wanted to say: “Know your place — it’s in the kitchen and mind your own business”.
The husband began to laugh. I asked him:
– Is anything wrong?
— That is hilarious! I decided to buy a juicer because I have a young attractive wife. I know that natural juices have a lot of vitamins, they strengthen the body. I wanted to make fresh juice every morning so that we could drink it and stay healthy. Moreover, it would do good for our baby as long as we were thinking about conceiving a child.
She looked at him.
– Is that true?
We had three or four appointments more with them. By the way, they are still together, they are happy and have already two kids.
You might ask: “Could it happen only because of a juicer?” Yes, it could.
How do you deliver information to other people?
Let me give you another example. A father and a son were going to the countryside by car. And the father said to the child:
— While we’re packing the things, put beer in the fridge.
The boy fulfilled this task. When they were about to go, the father asked the son:
— Where’s the beer?
— In the refrigerator.
The father opened the fridge and saw no beer inside. He asked the question again:
— Where’s the beer?
— In the refrigerator!
The man asked himself: “Have I gone completely stupid?”, went to the fridge, took out all the products — no beer!
He repeated his question:
— Where’s the beer?
The answer was the same. The father got mad, he grabbed his son’s hand and took him to the fridge:
— Where? Show me!
And the boy opened the freezer:
— Here it is…
Did the father explain correctly where to put beer?
It is amazing if you are able to understand each other. But it happens not so often. And naturally your partner can come up to you and say: “Look, I don’t understand. Explain it to me, please”.
If people do not understand you, try to use other ways to deliver the information, try to make yourself clear as much as possible. So that you could find a common language.
Actually you can find a common language practically with anybody — you can agree on everything with your partner: on life goals, on planning things together. Here is another real situation. A married couple had a conflict because the husband did some things that his wife did not like at all. However, he did not understand what was wrong:
— What is wrong with you? I do everything for you.
So we began to discuss the situation. It turned out that she liked cleanliness and order, and all things should be in their places. And she was constantly cleaning their apartment. And for the husband cleanliness did not really matter, as he just liked the comfort and it was more important to feel comfortable. And here it comes: a jacket is on the chair, a tie is on the floor, the feet are on the coffee table. No wonder that having witnessed such a “sacrilege” the wife got mad at her husband. But he did not know what the problem was until we tried to analyze the situation all together. I told him:
— So you say that you like comfort. Imagine you are going to go to bed. And you go to bed and see your spouse watching TV with a bag of crackers in her hands. Cracker crumbs are everywhere, you lie down and feel them with every cell of your body.
– Yeah, I would have killed her!
— So imagine: when she sees your feet on the coffee table she feels approximately the same.
It is surprising that sometimes your own thoughts need to be translated for others. And nobody can do that except for you. Of course, you could ask for help a professional “translator” if you have hard times doing it yourself. It is vital to learn to understand… and not to just speculate.
A chapter from the book “Happily ever after. The formula of the ideal relationship in the family”.