Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Feeling Safe With Someone

While driving through Italy, Gary and I had a lot of time to be together. Gary seemed bemused at my conversation, but was definitely more in tuned to driving than talking (not unusually). This being a rare occasion when we have so much time together, I said, "Gary TALK to me!" He asked, "About what?" I told him "About ANYTHING… what do you like, what don't you like, what are your dreams, what plans do you have for anything, who do you like, what problems at work are you experiencing, what is your favorite vacation, best memory, worst memory, most funniest thing that happened to you… ANYTHING! I just want to hear you!"

After thinking for a few seconds he said, "That is a LOT of stuff to talk about…" and …silence. After a short while of looking around and driving some more, I decided to contentedly and almost unilaterally carry on my conversation.

I was happy to talk about little things and observances, to note unusual things in our travels, noticing all sorts of details. Gary was happy to drive and look around a little in silence. I decided I would rather let Gary be content in who he is without trying to dig up something to talk about than try to pull conversation from him. After all, I would not be able to look around without noticing things, so why should I expect him to do something opposite his personality?!

I did manage to "test" his knowledge of foreign words, which was a further indication that he really wasn't too interested in little details!

Sometimes I feel that the best way to love someone is for them to feel SAFE with you. To know that whether they are in the mood to talk or not, that you love them and are okay with them and accept them just the way they are.

Sometimes it is the opposite situation: Gary will need to vent or I will need to vent over something. To be safe with someone is to know that they know your heart and believe the best in you. You can pour your heart out, and, if needed, restate things that need to be restated because they came out wrong the first time, or they were misinterpreted.

The worst thing to do in a disagreement, or when trying to reach a conclusion, or in a misunderstanding, is to "defend" yourself. When a team is on the defense in sports, they are determined not to let the opposition break through. When you are on the defense in a conversation, the person talking to you will never feel any opportunity to break through either! It's a funny play on words too: if you're on "de-fense" there IS a fence up that will continue to divide!

You can not make someone feel that to discuss their feelings with you will end up in a debate: they will be aware that your motive is not to understand them but to undermine them, and they will often give up and walk away. Love is easy to approach, believing and hoping the best of the other person.

I love this poem about Friendship:

Oh, the comfort –
The inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words – but pouring them
All right out – just as they are –
Chaff and grain together –
Certain that a faithful hand will Take and sift them –
Keep what is worth keeping –
And with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.

Challenge: Does your spouse feel safe with you. Do they feel accepted just as they are or do you have them "jumping through hoops" to be what you want them to be? Do you allow someone to express themselves to you until you understand their viewpoint, or do you go on "de-fense" and partition yourself from them? Do you seek to understand rather than undermine? Do you allow your spouse to rephrase things that you may have interpreted differently than what they were trying to say, or that they just simply need to restate? Make your spouse feel SAFE and enjoy the "inexpressible comfort" defined in the poem above!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

This post is awesome Karen. How I've missed your doses of wisdom. Keep 'em coming!!