Confessions of a Brutally Honest Communication Coach
I have a really hard job. All day, I listen to people who love each other very much tell each other in creative ways that they hate each other. It can be difficult to open up and bring a third party into your arguments, so as an icebreaker, I sometimes start my couples’ sessions with this question:
“If you never saw your spouse again because they walked out the door and had a heart attack, or they were in an accident, would you be happy that those were your last words?”
I came by this job honestly. The question came to me, searing and painful. I was sitting at my kitchen table with some of the kindest, most caring women in the world, one week after my own dear husband had died without warning.
These wives, who stopped their lives to take care of me in my darkest hour, ran out of compassion when it came to the one they vowed to love the most. As we sat there, where my family had eaten together for years, they complained about their husbands’ lack of interest and overall concern because they would not respond to their texts in a timely manner. I remember feeling angry that these good people’s first response was to take their loved ones for granted, rather than cherishing them, at such a vulnerable time in my life.
At this point, I was still in shock. My nerves were raw, and I had lost all sensitivity to social etiquette, and I said, “My husband never calls me back because he’s dead.”
The silence that followed was heavy, but it made them realize that they could do better. They knew they truly loved their husbands and that maybe these little things didn’t matter so much. Maybe it was time to see the big picture of this relationship from a different point of view.
After that moment, I had a vague understanding that I would spend the rest of my days trying to help loved ones appreciate each other more, to not regret their words and deeds, and to see more clearly from the other person’s perspective. I desperately wanted to plead with those people in my little bubble to do better.
So I challenge you to try to see through your adored one’s lens. Think about it like putting on their glasses and suddenly, everything is blurry, yet they can see clearly through the same pair. And before speaking—for heaven’s sake while listening—think about their perspective.