How important is it for him to communicate with you?
I remember a time when my husband, Mike’s correct communication just melted away all my emotional hurt. I’ve never forgotten it because it had such a big impact on me!
Mike had been away from home for 3 weeks. He was travelling with his 81 year old mother in the US and Canada, visiting his elderly auntie and meeting some of his cousins for the first time.
I had totally supported the trip, even offering to pay for his mother’s flight. I believed it was a wonderful opportunity for them to make some memories together before she was too old to travel any more.
I stayed home to care for the children and continue working. I was totally fine with that, and was glad he was spending time away with his relatives.
Late one night, however, he rang on his mobile, just as I was heading to bed.
My scenario – hot, tired, frazzled at the extra jobs without the help of husband, and anxious about a task at work the next day. His scenario – morning, on a train from Seattle to Vancouver (I could even hear the clickety clack of wheels on track!), glorious countryside, fulfilled with wonderful family experiences in Seattle, excited about meeting more in Vancouver, rested and totally content with his lot. Just at that moment, it all seemed so unfair, and I said so.
“I feel quite resentful, you over there having a great time, and me stuck here, having to cope with everything”, I grumbled.
And do you know what he said? Do you know what my wonderfully empathic husband said in response to my complaining? When he could have got defensive and reminded me that I had agreed that he do the trip, Mike replied instead,
“Yes, I totally get that you would feel resentful right now, knowing what I am doing, especially as you love train travel. I would love it if you were here as well. Thank you so much for supporting me in doing this trip with Mum.”
He acknowledged my feelings! He got it! And my pain dissipated, just like that! He didn’t get defensive, because he didn’t interpret that I was attacking him. And I wasn’t …. I was just telling him how I felt, at that specific moment in time. This is one key way on how to communicate better – to acknowledge someone’s feelings.
I HAD supported him in taking this trip, I WAS glad that he was travelling overseas, making some family memories. And Mike understood that. He also understood that within that big picture, I was allowed to have moments of feeling envious – even resentful – because that happens too. And he was able to acknowledge my feeling, and even add in that he would have loved it if I had been there too.
So there I was grumbling that I felt resentful, and Mike was saying, “I understand, and thank you for allowing me this experience.” You can’t stay upset at a time like that!