Andrew and I were traveling from Punta Ala yesterday, on our way to Civitavecchia, in order to catch a cruise boat to Barcelona. We missed our bus, had trouble getting cash out of the ATM, and just barely made our train. I was starving, and between bus stops, we got into a bit of an argument over something small, whether there would be restaurants at the port, and that led us to a larger discussion.
We talked about how, whenever we offer a difference of opinion to one another, the other person sees that as an indictment of our point of view, and we push back. In the end, one of us inevitably shuts the other person down. I have to admit that I am the one to take issue most often in these discussions, and I am often the one to shut Andrew down. And it was clear from our conversation yesterday that this really bothers him.
He then shared a meditation with me, and it caused me to think:
“When we let ourselves engage in love, we meet many obstacles – things we can’t control, and sometimes we want to quit right there. We have arguments and disappointments as well as good feelings. But what adventure is without difficulty or surprises? Part of the reason for choosing new experiences is to confront forces outside our control. A relationship is a dialogue. Only if we stay with it through the frustrations, express our deepest feelings openly, and listen to our partners, do we achieve a new level of understanding and confidence in the relationship.”
I love that Andrew has a different view of the world than I do. And his views are well-founded, and oftentimes more accurate than mine. I appreciate that we have healthy discourse and even that we disagree.
So then why do I take the defensive so often? Why do I feel the need to stand my ground? Why do I need to win? Is it important for me to be right?
Or why do I feel that I’ve done something wrong whenever we have a conversation like this one? Why do I feel that I have to change my behavior? Why is it that a conversation that I otherwise thought was a healthy exchange becomes one where I shut Andrew down, even without my knowing?
Even as I sat here writing this entry, Andrew and I discussed it.
We both value each other so much. We want to hear what the other person has to say. And we want to be sure that we aren’t silencing one another, and that we are not being silenced in return.
We had a guest this week that made me feel silenced, and I’m realizing that I’m still working through that. But Andrew is not that person. And just in discussing it now, we continue to achieve a new level of understanding.