Same Love, Less Words (Part 2)

Did you really think I’d be able to stop at the last post using soooo few words? I admitted then, and I can still admit now, that I struggle to apply the friendly feedback I once received, “Same love, Dena, but less words!”

So, here’s Part 2 of my battle with fewer words.

And that is exactly it.

I use words as my battle weapon of choice.

I had never realized it until I sat in a stadium full of women at a faith-based conference a few years back. As Patsy Clairmont shared an endearing personal story of a tiff that she and her husband once had when, she shared her husband’s targeted, yet defeated, response when he said something to the effect of…

Patsy, you might always win these fights with your words, but you will never have been kind.

Ouch. Her husband’s words felt like a sucker punch to my very own gut.

Want to know why?

Because the truth hurts.

And I was willing to ask myself these questions right there in the moment.

Could my words be vehicles of joy, hope, passion, and promises of potential, AND also daggers of doubt, judgment, and criticism?  Duh, Dena. Of course, they can.

And, could I be using words as a defense mechanism or an offensive attack?  Yup! Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

But why hadn’t I realized that before? Why did I have to hear it from someone else’s story to know it was happening in my own life? Well, that’s neither here nor there, the fact is that I did grab hold of a truth and now I had a choice to make about what to do about it.

I decided to get curious. When I first heard Patsy’s story, I immediately connected the dots to my own relationship with my husband, who is a man of FAR FEWER words than me. He likes to process things, for what feels like one million years to me. I tend to think out loud and quickly, while he leans towards handling it all inside and at a pace that feels right for him.

Here’s what I could see as our pattern when we had an “issue” to work through:

I loved words.

I hated conflict.

But I loved to be right.

And I wanted my words to be seen as having value.

So, I kept spewing them out at him.

He might respond.

I would pick his words apart.

He’d listen, but say fewer words, until there were no more words.

Through times of turbulence in our marriage, I had used my words as a way to shut him down, to self-protect, but they weren’t kind or healthy for our dealing or healing with the issue at hand. All I had succeeded in was using my voice to squash his.

I don’t think I knew that’s what I was doing until I heard sweet Patsy’s husband’s take. I was gently reminded that words have the power to heal, but without an underlying kindness, they have the ability to slowly destroy lines of communication.

And that was, and is, not my goal. My goal is to create a healthy marriage in which my husband and I can speak freely without feeling rushed or shushed. My dream is a marriage where it’s okay to ask for an opinion right now or to ask for a moment to be silent to think. I want my relationship to be built on a level of kindness that knows when to push and when to pull back.

My colleague had given me a golden nugget of wisdom when he offered, “Same love, Dena, but less words!” Patsy’s husband’s words and Patsy’s beautiful gift of sharing that story reminded me once again that words have power and I need to wield them in a way that is helpful, and kind, and full of genuine care and concern for anyone I encounter, but most importantly, my man!

Relationships require effort when it comes to communication, so I wonder, how are you using words in your relationships – at home or at work? Are you sharing too much or too little, and if so, why do you think that is? Are you being kind with your words?

Can you think on those questions for yourself?

Can you go one step further and ask your partner or colleagues for their thoughts?

It might not be easy to ask for the feedback, but if you care for the relationships you are in and want to invest in them, you’ll push through that fear. And remember, you aren’t alone if you find it’s a struggle. I’m right there with you. But we can for sure do this, we just have to remember and approach it with the same love!

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