A couple of years ago I had a man/woman epiphany. I've shared it with many, but just in case you are one who hasn't heard it, here it is....
While women have a tendency to think about how EVERY decision is going to affect EVERYbody, men typically don't think beyond the decision or action. Case in point, wall sconces (for the men reading this, sconces are candles that hang on the wall). Women light the candles thinking they'll make the room smell good, and the flicker will be pretty, and besides who wants a sconce that just hangs there. Men see the flame and think "oh, fire" and blow them out.
Now, onto the second part of this epiphany. We (women mostly, but humans in general) take everything personally. Woman lights the candle and the man thinks she doesn't respect his responsibility to keep them safe. Man blows it out and she thinks he doesn't care enough about her to let her have things she enjoys. You get my point.
Or do you? If you do, and you're are married, this concept could be the difference between contentment and misery. I was reading through some of my marriage materials tonight and found a note I had written in a marriage counseling certification class. Simply, "Feeling misunderstood is a major influence for divorced couples." This same booklet had the following quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "It is a luxury to be understood." And yet we take it personally when we feel misunderstood.
What if, when we felt misunderstood, or we have a disagreement with our spouse or others, we stop and think about the fact that it's not personal. What if it's not about us, but simply a lack of it being about us? Not every decision has evil motivation behind it. I would even bet that MOST decisions don't. We think in the moment, not necessarily how the world will be affected by our feelings, decisions or actions.
Now I realize that the women reading this are thinking, "Yeah, well he should think about me when he says something or makes a decision to do something. Anyway, if he really loved me he would." I know this, because it would have been my thought at one point. But personally, I now think that men are not wired that way, and women can fall into the same category about some things. It's a learned behavior and one that takes time.
So, here's an experiment...for the next week, whenever your spouse says or does something that makes you angry, or makes you feel misunderstood, think about how it's probably not about you. It was not a personal, malicious attack against you. It was simply a decision, comment or action done in spite of you.
The secret is to learn each other well enough to be able to naturally make decisions, or comments, or actions which don't offend or make the other feel misunderstood. But that comes with time...and we'll never be able to get there if we don't take the time to understand that it's not about us.
Please feel free to leave comments and let me know if you tried it, and how the experiment worked for you.
"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." 1 Corinthians 2:11 (NIV)
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