Over the weekend I went to see Star Trek Into Darkness with one of our extra girls who has become like a daughter. It was a great flick. But it was not until the very end – and I mean the very end – that I really learned something important. You see, while I am ready to leave as soon as the movie is over, she likes to remain until all the credits are over! I could never understand why until this time when I asked. Here is how she replied, what I learned, and how it relates to your marriage and family:
She recalled going to the movies years ago before her mother died of cancer. “Mom always stayed through the credits until the end,” she told me. I thought to myself, ahhh, so it has to do with fond memories.
Then she said that after reading a good book or watching a movie, her mom would ask her what she liked least and most about it. What did she learn? What will she remember and why? I thought to myself again, so it is a time to reflect, ask questions of oneself, and learn. That made so much sense! What a great idea! Most people, including myself, leave the moment the movie is over to get back into real life. Any possible time for reflection is lost.
THEN came the biggest observation of all. Rather than be irritated at her for having to stay until the very end of the movie, I discovered something about her by simply asking a question. I gained a completely new perspective. It will forever change my movie going experience.
So how does this relate to the relationships with your spouse and children? Ask yourself: how often do you miss opportunities to learn and discover more about them because you simply fail to ask? Imagine the following examples:
Your daughter comes home from school and in response to your asking about her day, she says “oh, it was so – so.” Typically you might say “my day was the same,” and then go back to whatever else your were doing. What would happen if instead, after giving her a few minutes to unwind, you went into her room, sat next to her and asked: “what was so – so?”
Your husband says, “hey why don’t you sit over here and watch the game with me.” Your first thought might be: Oh sure, why don’t you take me out so we can talk over dinner? What if you tried this: you take him up on his offer, and after the game ask him what it was like for him to have you sit there with him?
Your wife complains about you not taking her out to dinner. Don’t think about the last date that didn’t go so well. Instead, surprise her by eagerly taking her up on it while keeping this in mind: what she longs for is to be heard, understood, and validated. As you ready yourself for the “talk” that you know is coming, prepare mostly to listen well. Your goal is to learn more about what she is thinking and feeling. To aid in the process, use the following phrases at different times in the conversation:
- Tell me more about…
- What did you mean by…
- Help me understand this more…
In each encounter above, as well as countless others you experience on a daily basis, remember there are perspectives to be heard and things to be learned if you are willing to ask questions and listen. Doing so just might improve your relationships!
You can leave a response below!