Flying Down to Find the Sky

How do I manage my wants and needs while still accommodating his wants and needs too? 

This is a problem that comes up with my clients a lot. We have all been in the situation with our spouse where he wants something and I want something and we can’t both have them. So who wins?

***Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!!***

These situation where one partner seems to be pitted against another for who’s needs are “most important” is a petri dish ready to breed contempt, defensiveness, and all kinds of problems.

So what are we to do?

Let me share an story. 

A few years ago, I was driving home with my kids from a church meeting. It was a warm spring day, one of the first of the year and it was beautiful.

I pulled the car into our garage, turned the car off and opened the drivers door. As soon as I did, I heard a really loud buzzing sound. It sounded like the buzz of a wasp, but much, much louder. 

I quickly shut the door again. I hate wasps and I was picturing in my mind those giant wasps that live in South America that can attack and kill small birds. That is exactly what it sounded like had now moved into my garage. I was pretty sure my kids and I would just have to live in the car for the rest of our lives. 

My husband, in our other car, pulled into the driveway, curious about why we hadn’t gone inside. He heard the buzzing and gently pointed out that it was a hummingbird, not a giant, bird eating wasp. 

Relieved, we all got out of the car. We watched as this little hummingbird flew around the ceiling of our garage. Thinking it would quickly fly back out threw the garage door as soon as we left, we ushered the kids inside, leaving the garage door open, allowing the bird to fly away home. 

About an hour later, I went back into the garage and was surprised when I saw the hummingbird still flying around the ceiling. I watched as it would bang its tiny little head against the ceiling and I began to be concerned. 

I went inside to do a little research (thanks Google!) and discovered that this is a common problem for hummingbirds that often results in the bird dying. They get caught in the garage and, thinking that the only way out is up toward the sky, will fly around searching for the sky until they are completely exhausted.

Here was a huge opening leading exactly where this bird wanted to go, but he couldn’t see it because in panic, he believes with all his little hummingbird brain that the only way out is up. 

In our relationships, we  can get so stuck in our way of doing things and believe with all our conflict flooded brains that the only way to resolve the situation is to either give up entirely on what we want, convince our spouse that our way is right. Which clearly, almost never happens. But we fly around in circles, banging our heads against the ceiling trying to find a solution that isn’t up there. 

So how do we leave the ceiling to go out the door and find a solution? We have to act against all our reason and do what John Gottman calls “yield to win.”

We fly down instead of up. 

This looks like letting go of thinking, “I have to convince him that he is wrong and I am right” and learn to embrace “maybe we are both right.”

Accepting influence from your partner is choosing to listen to their request, and actively find ways to accommodate, while still meeting the most important parts of your needs. It’s letting go of somethings and adopting new things. 

This way of approaching differences is not instinctual and must be done intentionally. We choose to lay down our weapons and accept new ways of thinking as valuable. 

For example, you may have a very particular way that you like to load the dishwasher. You have very good reason for loading it that way and have spent years believing that it is the best way to load a dishwasher. 

The only problem is your spouse doesn’t load it the same way. No matter how many times you have tried to convince him that he is doing it wrong, he won’t change is actions. So frustrating right? 

But what if you could believe, there is no “best way” to load a dishwasher? What if, his way of loading gets the dishes clean just as well as yours? How would that change the way you approach him?

You would be more open to accepting his influence in the loading of the dishes, right? 

And the instant that you open yourself up to that possibility, when you act counter to your defensive instinct, you not only find a great way to load the dishes that draws on the strength of both, but you show your husband that he, and the way he thinks and does things, is important to you. 

So just like that hummingbird, we sometimes need to fly down in order to find the sky. 

Give it a try and let me know how it goes. If you’d like some helping figuring this out, I’m here for you. Just click below to set up a free, no pressure call and we can get you all set up for success.