A peaceful Sunday morning coffee had turned into an unpleasant argument. My hubby and I are very excited about the prospect of removing the ugly dog fence that adorns the back of our home and turning the space into a lovely patio. We’ve been here, in our first house, for about 9 years. And that eye-sore out my back window has always bugged me.
For years I’ve pictured a sweet little love seat on my patio, where I can sit in the morning and read my Bible in peace. A cozy chair I can curl up in, with a blanket in the evening, reading a new novel…maybe a string of Christmas lights for ambiance.
So, when hubby handed me the Sunday Paper circular ad, pointing to the patio furniture section, I dove in. He pointed out a pretty table and chair set and I pointed to the picture next to it. A “conversation set” complete with two chairs, coffee table and a love seat.
That’s when it started.
“We don’t need that. We need a table,” he said, in a very dude-ish, matter of fact way.
I answered in a calm voice, “Well, if I had to choose, I’d keep using this old table and get a conversation set.” It just made the most sense to me. We already had a table, even if it wasn’t pretty…it was functional. And the love seat set cost a couple hundred less than the dining set. I should get points for that!
But he didn’t budge. He said we’d have no place to store it. We didn’t need it just because our friends had one. On and on it went until I “gave up” and said…not so sweetly…and quite sarcastically, “Fine, pick whatever you want since I’m sure you will be the one out there the most.” I picked up my coffee, my computer and stormed away. In a huff. Like a two-year old.
Then, as I obsessively scrubbed my kitchen counters, just for something to take my frustration out on, I began to think it through. My husband is a loving guy. Why is he not listening to me? But I realized I wasn’t trying to listen to him, either. It came down to the story beyond the words (as it usually does). I had been planning what I wanted on that patio for years. But I’d never shared that with him. And vice versa. He likes to entertain…to have people over for dinner. So he’s been picturing a nice large table where we can sit with friends, having dinner…a glass of wine…and maybe play a card game or two. But he had never shared that with me. His rational thoughts were hidden behind quick, dismissive words.
When I realized all this, I apologized to him for my huff and he apologized for being dismissive. I learned I was right about what he wanted and why and I explained to him that I had been thinking about a set like that for years.
I’ve thought about this more in the last week. How many times do tempers flare in relationships because we aren’t listening to the heart that’s behind the words? Because we’re not bothering to listen to the true story that’s found beyond the words? I’m trying to be more careful about really listening to what is motivating my family members when they act out. And I’m learning to better communicate what I’m feeling as well.
In the end, I decided he was right; we should get the dining set.
And he decided I was right; we should get the conversation set.
He “won.” And so did I.
(I’ll update with a picture when the project is done :))
Click here for the UPDATE: One month later…
This post was inspired by Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday prompt word: Listen. I’m usually very strict with myself about the five minutes. But today, that timer went off and I was only half-way through the story. So…this is more of a ten minute post. (Sorry Lisa-Jo!) If you’d like to join the hundreds of bloggers who participate in Five Minute Friday each week, click here for the details. It’s a blast…join us!!