If you have not read Part 1 of this blog yet, I would highly recommend going back and reading that blog before you read this blog. This blog will make very little sense if you have not read Part 1 first. You can read Part 1 of this blog series here.
Here are the action steps we have discussed so far:
Action 1: Discover Their Little Joys. Read Part 2 here.
Action 2: Kiss Unselfishly. Read Part 3 here.
Action 3:”Just Because” Gifts. Read Part 4 here.
In today’s blog, we will be discussing the 4th action step that I have come up with that I can work on doing that will help sustain my present relationship and future marriage with Steph. Remember, these are all action steps you can use and work on with me to improve your present relationships or marriages as well.
Action 4: Ask, “Is This Okay?”
The close friend of this statement is “What do you think?” They are saying almost exactly the same thing. It is saying that you give value to the opinion of your partner. It does not mean that you will always do exactly what they think you should do, but it shows that you care about them enough to at least consider what they think. It is important that we ask our partners one of these questions on a very regular basis.
A second important part of the process of asking this question is to actively listen to what they are saying. Stop what you are doing and make eye contact while they are talking. Show them that what they are saying is important to you. Even if you might not be thinking that in your mind, you need to pretend like it does.
A third important part of the process is validating what they say. You do this by first repeating back to them what they said in your own words so that you know that you have understood it correctly. After that give some form of positive affirmation of what they said. You can say things like, “That makes a lot of sense,” or “I never thought of that,” or “You make a good point,” or even “Do you really think that would be best?” Just showing that you are listening to what they are saying, considering it, and recognizing the importance of what they are saying is all very important parts.
It doesn’t even really even matter if you do exactly what they suggest. Just by asking them, you are validating their feelings and most-likely, that is enough to make them happy and feel appreciated. Who knows, they might have a better idea than anything you might have been thinking anyway. The trick is to have the humility to be able to change and go with the partner’s idea when it is better than yours. That is a whole other conversation though.
Proverbs is a book of the bible that gives great advice for how one should live their lives. The topics discussed are a relevent today as they were thousands of years ago. I would like to share with you a short series of Proverbs that I think are very helpful in today’s discussion.
Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)
15 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Proverbs 18:6-7 (NIV)
6 The lips of fools bring them strife,
and their mouths invite a beating.
7 The mouths of fools are their undoing,
and their lips are a snare to their very lives.
Proverbs 23:12 (NIV)
12 Apply your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 31:26 (NIV)
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
I know that I can be very heard-headed and stubborn at times. It can be very hard for me to admit when I am wrong, so my first instinct is to not ask Steph if something is OK. Other times I do ask her, but even if she has a better idea, I am reluctant to do it because I seem to think that it somehow makes me look weaker. The truth is that it takes a stronger man to admit that he was wrong or didn’t have the best idea than to go against advice just to go against advice. This is an area that I really need to improve upon. I am going to look for opportunities where I can ask Steph what she thinks about things, actively listen to what she has to say, and then affirm and thus validate what she is saying. I may not always end up doing what she says I should do, but if her idea is better than mine, I will try to follow her advice just because it is better than my own. At those times I will have to put my pride away in a box and place it on a shelf somewhere.
To give some traction to this action step, let’s look for 3 opportunities over then next week where we would have the chance to ask our partner “Is this OK?” or “What do you think?” When our partner tells us their response, listen carefully to what they are saying and affirm it. Then consider what they said in a totally objective way that does not include your pride. If their idea is better than yours, then follow theirs. You may even want to consider taking one of those times to do what they say even if you don’t thing it is a better idea. This shows your commitment to improving in this area.
Leo Tolstoy, a Russian novelist, says “What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.” There is a lot of wisdom behind those words aren’t there?
As we move forward with our interactions with our partners, let’s remember to ask what they are thinking and find ways that we can listen well and validate them as often as we can. Showing them you care can make all the difference in the world.