So I have been a little quiet lately… don’t worry, nothing has happened without you all hearing about it – I’ve just been kept busy with end of term exam craziness and some good ol’ Time Out courtesy of school vacations (one of the few perks of being a teacher!). G and I are doing just fine… 😉
In the midst of us ‘finding our stride’ and just kinda settling as a couple, I’ve realised how different life as part of an ‘Us’ is, in comparison to just being ‘Me’. Nobody prepares you for this kind of change?? I have honestly been humbled at realizing how selfish I have been – not in a bad, self-centred way, but just… well, I’ve never really had to take someone else’s needs or opinion into account before: I could do as I pleased and go wherever I wanted without having to explain myself. Now, there’s this other person who doesn’t necessarily ‘expect’ it, but definitely appreciates getting those little explanations – I have someone who actually cares about the way I spend my time. Apparently it all comes down to a very simple concept: Communication.
And apparently I am really bad at it.
Obviously I will never use this blog to expose G’s faults or use it as a platform to air our petty issues (no, we’ll just go straight to the heavy personal stuff??), so please forgive me for sometimes being a little vague on details… but anyway. We were facing an issue a few days back and it was really playing with my head – no matter what I did or how I tried reasoning my thoughts, I couldn’t rationalise it away and began fretting about it. I knew it was something that needed to be faced, but something (a little like fear) kept me trying to push it away and pretend it wasn’t a problem. Denial is nobody’s friend.
I spent the whole of Monday in silence. G has the morning off work and with me being on holiday, we were together – and it was a tough morning. I process problems inwardly, meaning I need to wrestle with my thoughts, allow them to simmer, climb into my metaphorical Nothing Box and have plenty of Time Out until I have either exhausted myself mentally or worked through all the possible outcomes, dealt with my insecurities and have ‘overcome’ enough to move on… this strategy has always worked wonders for me. When I was single and able to sit on the couch alone, without someone looking anxiously at me from the other side… Praise the Lord for giving me the most patient man on the planet! I don’t think he realised how close he came to being snapped at several times that day, when in hindsight, all he was doing was showing he cared (copious cups of tea quietly made, chocolate bought…), expressing his concern and trying desperately to draw me out of my head. In essence: he was communicating. I was not.
The brave man came back after work to check in on me. Having had the entire day to mull things over, I was ready – bring on the tears. And a vague but humble and heartfelt apology… and then an explanation of how I had been trying desperately to make sense of the ‘issue’ and that by keeping quiet I was trying to protect him from the irrational and potentially dangerous unfiltered thoughts flying about my head – thoughts that if spoken would have hurt him terribly, especially as they weren’t true. As much as that effort to protect him was appreciated, we learnt something even more valuable: we have different communication styles and well, that needs to be um, communicated to the other person. Who knew?? As a couple we have to talk about how we talk..?? What an eye-opener???
But you know what was amazing? The moment that ‘monstrous issue’ was spoken and brought out from Thought into Word: it seemed so trivial. And instead of it pushing us apart, by speaking about it, we drew closer together as we shared our hearts and thoughts – we found a way through as a couple. Communication is such a necessary aspect of sharing life with someone else: having the courage to be vulnerable about the things that scare you, and extending the grace to another when they do the same. Isn’t effective prayer meant to be like that? Pouring your heart out to the Lover of your soul, no matter how icky or silly it may seem, to know He listens attentively and lovingly – and then in turn, to wait for His response, which is always filled with Mercy and Kindness. And the result is always the same: its draws you closer in relationship.
So lesson learnt. And our new strategy: being that we are both self proclaimed ‘over-thinkers’, we have made a deal… when one of us is struggling with an issue and needs Time to Over-think it, they’re allowed that freedom and space to do so. However, they also have the responsibility to Reach Out to the other person at various moments throughout the Over-thinking, simply to re-establish Contact; whether its a hug, kiss on the cheek, holding their hand… its just a silent signal of appreciation and love.
I’ll let you know how it goes…