A New Way to Listen

A few weeks back I wrote about one of my anchors, my best friend, and how she helped me learn to communicate. See my earlier posts “The Anchor” and “Ms. Streisand was Right” for more details. Now I want to say a little something about another key relationship in my life- the one I have with my husband. This will be the first of many posts about him, I’m sure.

Before I got married, I figured I had developed into a pretty great communicator. I was like, “I’m sweet! I got this!” But a few weeks in I was like, “Wait a minute! Men are different! Communicating with them is hard! We fight more!” So I had to reassess and learn to share my side of things in a way that didn’t damage the relationship.

More importantly, I had to learn to listen to him. At first, when he would tell me that I had hurt his feelings, I would freak out, get defensive, take excessive blame. I would shut down and stop talking. Further down the line I realized that the only emotion I associated with men was anger, and I couldn’t deal with him expressing any of the others. I had to learn to face his disappointment, sadness, and insecurity head on, eyes open, and try to understand without judgment.

The first few times it was hard not to feel like my world was coming unmoored. I wanted him to always be strong, to always be the rock and allow me to be the emotional one. Our relationship got a whole lot better, however, when I just let him be vulnerable. Vulnerability can be excruciating, right? Seeing it in others and showing it in yourself- both are hard.

I guess what I’m saying is that from my bestie I learned to talk, but from my husband I have learned a new way to listen. I think I have more compassion for people because of it. I know all you great communicators out there are going, “Hello, obvious!” I’m just sayin’, some people like me just don’t get it right away. Slowly but surely, it’s getting easier to give myself  and my spouse permission to be vulnerable. Work in progress, of course. Always.