I was on a cruise a few years ago speaking about communications techniques. After the first presentation, a couple who were in my audience asked if they could join me for dinner. We talked about the presentation but I knew there was something specific on their mind. By the time we finished dinner I had managed to get them to talk about their relationship.
I asked Cathy what she felt was the biggest challenge in their relationship. She said they argued every single day they had been together over 28 years.
I asked her if she could remember the biggest argument they had during the past year. She said she remembered it well but couldn’t remember what the argument was about. When I asked her husband Dave, he agreed it was the same argument and he couldn’t tell me what had instigated it.
I then asked if they could remember how they felt and they both agreed they could describe exactly how they felt both during and after the argument! They described it as feeling infuriating, helpless, not heard, invalidated, sad and unimportant. I’m sure they could have gone on with the descriptives, but I asked them to stop at that point.
I asked if they remembered a specific cause of any argument during the past year. They each remembered a less drastic argument and then Cathy told me one stemmed from a time Dave came in from the garage and when he came into the kitchen and turned on the light he knocked over her Hummel which was inches away from the switch.
I asked her if she thought there might be at least one more place she could place the Hummel where Dave’s big clumsy hands would knock it over when he turned on the light.
The both laughed and Diane agreed she could move it out of the way of the light switch.
It was Dave’s turn and he told me he got very angry when Cathy nagged him about the newspapers he always left on the floor by the garage door.
I asked Dave where they were supposed to go and he told me he had built a bin in the garage and arranged to have a recycling organization pick them up once a month.