Who’s On First?

My husband is mad this morning. I think I know why and I don’t like it. I get that he wants me to listen to him and to change one of my behaviors. And yet, I am struggling to be open to him and to hear him out. All the intellectual know-how is there but I’m still struggling.

As soon as he showed up with his anger I felt my body go into defense mode. For me that feels like a low simmer in my gut, a feeling of tenseness in my limbs, a dryness in my mouth and a brain that is off-line. I immediately went into my own internal dialogue – he’s being so unfair, he’s going about this the wrong way, it sucks that he is starting our morning off this way, I’m so hurt, etc. And I feel a sense of shame. Like I’ve been scolded like a little child.

So, we go about our morning routines with less talk, more stress, less connection and more negativity. We each are caught up in our mindstorms of frustration and loss.

How do we change this? How do we move back toward connection, love and understanding?

One of us must be brave and gracious and strong enough to say, “I see how upset you are. I care about you and am willing to listen to what’s going on for you. When can we talk?” In other words, one of us must stretch beyond our comfort zone and be willing to go second.

This takes work. In spite of our parents’ best efforts, most of us still want to be first and win the race. But as we grow up we discover that everyone wants to win the race, and you can’t win all of the time. Hopefully, we discover that when we are in an intimate relationship going second has its own rewards.

Having been here before, my husband and I have learned that having an Imago dialogue can really help. It makes a huge difference having a structure for processing our stuff. This way we’re both on the same page with the same end goal in mind. And for him, it’s a way to fix what’s wrong.

So, knowing that we can schedule a time and have a safe and productive dialogue about the incident helps. Having a process, a structure for handling our feelings and differences helps. And we both would much rather add to our closeness and trust than detract from it.

Now that I’ve had a few minutes to let my body settle down and to gather my wits, I can remember what’s in my heart. I remember that this is the person I share my life with, and who is really and truly my best friend.

So, now I’m ready to pick up the phone (or maybe text) and tell my husband how much I care. I’ll ask when he wants to talk about what happened this morning. I will tell him I’m ready to listen. And, that he’s up first.

Give Sofia a call at 503-544-3559 or email sofia@peacefull.net to set up your appointment and start learning how to do the Imago Dialogue for a more peaceful, fun and connected partnership.

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