We were driving home from a weekend with my family. What could have become an interesting conversation was short-circuited by my emotionally charged and defensive response to his comments.
“Did I blast you with my opinions?” I ask with remorse.
“Yes, kind of,” he admits, then adds with a smile, “But I’m used to it now.”
“I wish I filtered better,” I say.
“I don’t think you need to filter your opinions,” he replies. “But it might help if you listened more closely to what I was saying. And I could probably try phrasing things differently too.”
I guess I’m still learning to listen. Part of effective listening is letting go of assumptions. It is asking the all-important clarifying questions (“So it sounds like what you’re saying is…”). It means realizing that even when I feel like we are approaching a topic from dramatically different angles, we still might end up close to the same place. It means that when we do reach that ending place, the words we say, the way we see that place might sound different coming out of our mouths. We might be describing the same coin from different sides.
In the quiet aftermath of our conversation Monday, I remembered how we used to talk often about believing the best about each other. I sense that this will be especially important again as we launch into the next chaotic weeks of transition and then the many months of separation ahead. Will I practice assuming my husband has our best interests at heart when he makes a judgment call, or release my initial interpretation of a hard-sounding word or tone, trusting that it is probably unintentional? Wouldn’t it be helpful, especially when I feel a bit tightly wound and internally messy, if I practiced asking questions before defaulting to an angry defense?