What is the key to a good and lasting relationship? I would think the number one way to have a good relationship is listening. We learned a long time ago we have two ears, one mouth, we should listen at least twice as much as we speak. But is listening just using our ears?
When you come home, you see the one you love. Do you see the way they brighten up when they see you? Does it bring you joy to suddenly see each other? Do you even know? How is it that people get surprised with the sudden break up or divorce? How didn’t these people know where it came from? Were they sleeping – not really paying attention?
Listening is about paying attention. What is this person saying to you consistently? Not just words but between the words. What are their expressions? What’s their body language? A really assertive person who likes to push their ways, they believe they’re right, and they want a significant other to follow their way. So they beat their partner down to convince them. You’ve probably heard the expression “a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.
Now, think about that. You’re very assertive, you’re very strong willed, you keep pushing to get your way, and they agree. See, they agree, this is good isn’t it? You don’t think about getting your way, you just know you’re getting your way and your partner is there with you. But are they really? And how many times do you pull this? Will you beat them down to convince them of what you want, just waiting for the words, “Okay, Honey. We’ll do that.” But are you looking for the expression? Are you looking for what’s coming from their body language? Are you noticing? Are you listening? Is your antenna out? Are you receptive to what’s really going on there?
Sure, once in a while we want to convince our partner to do what we want to do. But are you reciprocating? Is it a good relationship if you just get your way all the time? The more assertive one is going to get their way more, but the other will not be happy. It will build up over time. They will lose themselves in this process, little by little. You’re putting out the flame. They agree, they agree. One is usually agreeable, the other one is demanding. That’s all it takes. How long, how many years? How many times? So for the sake of the relationship, we try to listen better. We pay attention to the verbal and non verbal signals. I know when I’m with my wife, when I say something I want to do or something she wants to do I don’t agree with and I’m just firm about, “No, I’m not doing that, period.” Then she gives up. Now, what happens?
Do I go watch TV, and don’t care? What am I thinking? “Got my way… good. Don’t have to do that, good”. Or does it break my heart a little bit? We have to ask ourselves that because it would break my heart a little bit if the antenna is up and I feel her pain, if I feel the problem, if I know she’s not happy. If she’s not happy, we’re not happy. How many times can I get away with that? Sure, once in a while but if I’m aware of that, I need to make a heck of an effort for that relationship either next time or right away soon in another way.
How long does it take before that less assertive, before the more agreeable one is just not themselves anymore? How long before that person is not the one you fell in love with in the first place. Think about that. Two people fell in love. They spend more time together and they get more and more attached, one trying to fix the other. One trying to mold the other into something they are not. Not too often it’s a balance, both with each other. Unless they’re both really open. They both want to learn, they both want to grow. Yeah, then there can be a balance but usually one is in charge. It could be the man, it could be the woman. Always trying to fix the other. Eventually you beat them down. You change them and now this person is not what you wanted anymore. You forgot. Maybe they used to be an artist and you used to love that about them but now they are so busy doing what you want that they don’t’ have time for that anymore, they lose themselves. The very person you fell in love with, what you liked so much about them…that’s not them anymore.
We can stop that. We can nip that in the bud by listening beyond the words. Watch your loved one’s expressions. Are they happy or sad and resentful? You can learn a lot from hearing not just what people say because sometimes people say one thing but mean something else and if you don’t pick up on those signals, then your lost. You think you’re getting your own way but really, you have no idea without really listening. That’s when a relationship changing or ending can surprise you. When forget to practice your awareness.
Based on a 7 Keys Talk on Awareness by Shifu Ahles.