3 Bad Habits I Kicked That Drastically Improved My Relationship
Saying that to myself makes me feel okay about the poor choices I make in my relationship from time to time. It’s comforting knowing that I’m not the only one who makes mistakes.
However, continuing to make the same poor choices over and over and expecting different results obviously won't get me the quality relationship I deserve.
So there are a few habits that I’ve kicked over the past few years that changed the quality of the communication in our relationship drastically! I want to share these with you because there's a good chance you struggle with them as well.
Bringing Up A Heavy Conversation at The Worst Time
I like to talk. So sometimes, when something is on my mind, I have a tendency to just start speaking about it without considering whether it’s an appropriate time to do so or not.
No ‘we need to talk’. No ‘I’d like to share something really important with you’. It just spills out.
I noticed it was getting bad when Zaz missed her train for work one morning because I brought up some heavy topic we had no business discussing that early in the morning. Especially while she was on a time restraint to catch a train.
Now, before I bring up something I know is going to be touchy, I make an effort to respect her time by asking when it’d be good for her to discuss and waiting until then to hash it out.
When I don’t do so, I’ve given her permission to tell me to stop so we can pick it up at a better time. And because I’d rather not deal with her shutting me down mid-sentence, I’ve gotten pretty good at asking first!
Trying To Prove My Point
[row] [column size="1/2"] See, when I’m in a great space, it’s easy for me to be a great listener. My attention is focused, my ears are available and my heart is open.
But when I’m frustrated or upset, my interest in listening goes out the window and I get laser-focused on trying to get my point across. In essence, I end up sounding like the 'listen Linda' kid [click the volume button to 'listen'].[/column]
[column size="1/2"] [/column] [/row]
But because I don't give Zaz the space to be heard, it always just leads to more bickering and arguing and not getting anywhere productive. The tool that I use now to deal with this is quite simple. Shut up and listen.
It's tough to do so in the moment without getting caught up in your emotions, so it takes a dose of humility to make it happen. In the heat of the moment, I have to remind myself, “Is my goal in this conversation to be right? Or is my goal to connect with my wife?"
When the goal is to be right, there’s no need to listen well. When I remind myself the goal is to connect with her, listening becomes the only path to do so.
The point: Make the effort to understand before making the effort to get your point across.
Feeling Entitled To Get My Way
Who wouldn’t want their way in an argument? Isn’t the whole point to getting your way? I mean, at the end of the day I’m the ‘more logical’ one, so my perspective is usually right, right? Wrong. It can be so easy to get caught up in who’s right and who’s wrong in a disagreement. And approaching any conversation with this perspective only leads to an impasse of neither one of us wanting to ‘giving in’.
Similarly, there’s a story of two kids fighting over the last orange. They fought and fought until one decided to stop and talk about why they wanted it. They found out that one wanted to eat the orange and the other only wanted to shave the orange peel for a muffin recipe.
Like the kids in the story, as long as we're fighting against each other, no one wins. I've learned when we approach our challenges collaboratively rather than combatively, we often find better solutions that we wouldn’t have even considered while focusing on our own needs.
After kicking these poor habits to the curb and adopting new ones, the quality of our communication has changed drastically for the better. And that experience keeps me driven to keep those poor habits at bay. Nobody’s perfect, but striving to be better is definitely more effective than settling for the status quo.