Empathy Quote

I know that most of my posts seem too happy, or too “perfect”, and I promise I’m not exaggerating the love and respect we have for each other. However, I thought it is only fair to let you all in on what we don’t necessarily love about each other and how we deal with those things.

We don’t disagree on a lot, but disagreements do come up in our day to day lives. For instance:

  • I have to have the ceiling fan on in the bedroom at all times, even when it’s cold out. He hates this and makes his frustration known when going to bed on cold nights.
  • I like to have the bed made, or at least the covers spread out correctly and not bunched up at the bottom of the bed, every night when we go to bed. He doesn’t understand this and it is like pulling teeth to get him to help me do it.
  • I found out last night that he likes for us to eat immediately after the food is made; or if he is bringing take-out home, he wants the drinks made and the t.v. ready to watch when he gets home. I found this out because when he got home and it wasn’t done, he was quite pissy.
  • The temperature of the house. I like it cold, he wants it hot. This is a constant battle.
  • He hates tripping over my shoes, that I somehow manage to leave directly in the walkway at all times.

I’m sure that there are other things that we disagree on, but for now I think that is a pretty good list. The major difference that I have seen between us and other couples is not that we don’t have disagreements, but that they are only disagreements and they do not turn into knock-down, drag out fights and name calling.

I recently read an article on Huffington Post called The Marriage Secret No One Wants To Admit, and it frustrated me so much. If you don’t have time to read it, let me explain: what this person is saying is that every couple has dirty fights, slams doors and cusses at each other. And, apparently, according to the author, those who say they don’t are just lying liars who are full of shit.

Here’s the thing: Tate and I might be the only couple I know of that deals with disagreements with respect and calmness, and not yelling and saying hurtful things to each other, but we are proof that every relationship is not like that. They don’t have to be!

I think that it is very easy for people to be selfish, myself included. When you start living with someone else, it can be very difficult to go from thinking only about yourself to thinking about you and that person. It is difficult to understand that we are all human and we all have wants and needs, and to empathize with others. But, how I see it, when you either decide to live together, or exchange vows, you are making a commitment to that person, and a responsibility to love and care for them no matter what.

Empathy does not come easy for everyone, but it is a necessary trait to have if you choose to spend your life with another person. Once you’ve made that decision, you have to understand that it is not about just you anymore, it’s about them, too.

When Tate got upset with me last night for not having the t.v. on and drinks ready, my first knee-jerk reaction was to get mad. My first thoughts were he is being ridiculous! Is he really that upset about such a non-substantial issue? However, instead of just saying the first thing that popped into my head and causing an argument, I thought a little harder and realized that it doesn’t matter if I don’t think it’s a big deal, it matters that he does. This is exactly like the bed; he doesn’t understand why I need the bed made, but it is important to me. How would I feel if, when I brought it up, he was a jerk about it and made me feel stupid? I would hate that! So why would I do that to him?

Instead of telling him that I didn’t care what he wanted (which is exactly what he would have heard had I said the first thing that came to mind), I simply apologized to him and let him know that I didn’t realize that it was so important to him and that I would try to work on it. I then brought up the bed and pointed out to him how similar the situations were. His response was agreeing with me and letting me know that he would keep it in mind. And just like that, a fight was avoided and the subject dropped.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I don’t pretend that our relationship is perfect. But I have learned in the last 9+ years that yelling and fighting gets us nowhere. Discussion solves problems better than slamming doors does.

When a disagreement comes up, put yourself in their shoes before you react. And, if you have an issue with them, bring it up immediately in a calm way, instead of holding it in, letting it get to a boiling point and then exploding on your partner.

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