In the past, when we’d argue, Richard always had a good point. But the tone he used to explain himself was rather rough and painful because he was also hurt by what I said.
So in the early years of our relationship, I was afraid (praning) to bring up issues with him, even though he wanted honesty from me.
I realize I’m like some Filipino men (haha!). We’d rather not talk about it. It’s not that we don’t love our partners, we just think that discussion will make things worse. Solving things quietly on our own is the “safer” way.
My unwillingness to discuss issues is painful for Richard, my opposite, who only wants to connect with me using conversation. However, he does know that he has to train himself to become more gracious and patient when listening to my thoughts (even if they are wrong or disorganized).
I must train myself to be honest and open. But I also need to feel safe to tell Richard anything and everything. This is a tension we have been working on since 2012.
And it has definitely gotten better over time. 🙂
Last year, we had a fight. Richard calmed down before I did and asked for my honest thoughts. Frustrated (ayoko na magtimpi) I thought: “Fine, you want honesty?”
I told him why I was so angry. I didn’t shout, but my tone was irritated and sarcastic –no sugarcoating or downplaying his faults the way I usually do. He did not interrupt. He let me finish.
When I was done, he gave me a hug. I was shocked. I didn’t expect such a positive response to my outburst! Then he said: “I’m happy to know what you’re REALLY thinking.”
(Read: Why Do I Say I’m Ok When I’m Not?)
We hugged for a few more minutes (to become calmer), then we began to discuss the issue itself. Yes, I had a right to get angry, but I also said things that were unfair or had no real basis. It was easier to acknowledge where we went wrong because we were both less emotional.
That hug after telling him (unfiltered) what I really thought, helped me feel safe to be completely honest with him.
(Read: Are you a “touch person?”)
It goes two ways: I have to practice communicating, while Richard has to practice creating a safe space for me to speak. Over time we realized, it’s really a team effort and not just one person’s problem. LOOOOONNNNGGG-term practice makes perfect. 🙂
, November 30, 2017