There are two main ways to understand the details in your life as a couple:
• Details that are the real minutia. That only get in the way and get your relationship derailed; or
• Details we need to investigate to see what is going on deeper, underneath
It’s a Friday night and a man and a woman have just finished eating pizza. “What’s for dessert?” says the woman. “I’m having applesauce” says the guy. “I want thin mints!!” says the wife. (Girl Scout Cookie season don’t ya know) “Are you suuurrrre you want thin mints?” Pause. “Ok,” she says, “Bring me an applesauce.”
The next evening the wife appears a little low, a little quiet. She finally turns to him and says with watery eyes,
“I really need to tell you something. It really hurt my feelings when you said I couldn’t have thin mints last night. You love pizza; that is your favorite cheat meal for the week. But you know I love chocolate, and I want to be able to have my favorite cheat food too.”
What do you think he did?
He could look at the details of exactly how the conversation really went. And tell her “I didn’t say you couldn’t have thin mints. You can have whatever you want. You are upset over nothing. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
True. He didn’t say she couldn’t have the cookies. And he truly may not have even meant, or was hinting she shouldn’t have them. But that detailing of the conversation is not the heart of the matter. If you put yourself in the wife’s shoes, how do you think she would have received that answer? Would it make the relationship better, or lead it to deteriorate?
But here is what he DID do.
He put his hand on her leg and said, “I’m sorry babe, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. You should have your favorite cheat food too. I really didn’t mean you couldn’t have your cookies.”
How do you think she would have accepted that answer? It went something like this: “Thanks, it makes me feel better you understand. I love you.” He didn’t have to apologize and say “I was wrong,” or do any groveling. He simply told her he was sorry her feelings were hurt; he cares for how she feels.
A man says to his wife, “Hey, you want to get something to eat? Go out and eat?” She will probably say “sure, where should we go?” What if you added a little detail to how you ask the question? How about: “Hey, I would love to take you out to eat, want to go out with me?”
If you think a little on the detail of the first ask, going to get something to eat can be seen as really being about filling your belly or fulfilling a normal, daily need for food. The second ask is about you wanting to be WITH HER! Sound like the same thing? Yes, it is semantics. But the small subtlety can make a woman feel pursued, wanted and like she is important to you. Maybe she will feel like she did in the beginning of your relationship. A small detail, sure. Skeptical? Give it a try and see.
So, sometimes the detail of the situation is not the most important thing to focus on. We need to focus on what is really going on underneath; what is in the heart. Think “Thin Mints!” Other times, the details of how we say something, sound more meaningful. A small detail can make the difference in a mundane task; turning it into an important feeling of connection.
What “detail” are you focusing on regarding your relationship? Are you aware of which details can become problematic, and which can help you connect at a different level? Let us know what you think. Drop us a note or a comment.