Attention Experience – An observation.
I overheard and watched a young engaged couple begin a conversation. They started by sitting across the table from each other. Then they smiled into the other’s eyes.
The young woman said, “Hi.” And smiled again. The fellow responded by saying “Hi” and a huge smile lit his face.
He reached forward to catch her fingers in his hand. It wasn’t a particularly scintillating conversation, but one thing was clearly communicated – they were happy to see each other.
When and how was the last time you communicated to your spouse you were happy to be with them?
Here’s a list to consider… Do you?
- lean forward (or turn) when your spouse talks to you (unless you’re driving)
- look your spouse in the eye and keep your eyes on them not the kids or the TV (unless you’re the one driving of course)
- deliberately have a pleasant, open expression on your face
- NOD when your spouse makes a good point you agree with
- SMILE when they introduce humor
- reach forward to touch your spouse when it makes sense
- finally, RESPOND to your spouse’s questions
- and open with comments which are thoughtful
These attention experience reactions aren’t too hard to do, right?
Supporting your spouse is not only a physical activity, it’s an attention experience.
Actively supporting your spouse involves listening; really hearing what the other person is reaching out to communicate. Then it means listening even more – deeper – hearing what they’re saying and what they’re not saying.
There are husbands and wives who suggest their spouse doesn’t talk.
They say their spouse won’t communicate. Their spouse has never talked, never learned how to talk, and being talkative probably isn’t even in their nature or personality. They say their spouse is the quiet type.
Sure. Sometimes people are quiet.
I’m probably the quieter one in our marriage. Robert is much more likely to talk than I am. However, I do communicate.
If you pay attention to the quietest person in the room, even without exchanging a word, you’ll still have some inkling on what they’re feeling or thinking. And if your spouse isn’t talking, they may still be reaching out to communicate.
Pay attention when your spouse knocks on the relationship door.
Knocking may not be a verbal experience. How might they knock?
- a sigh
- a raised eyebrow
- a wince
- a shrug of the shoulder
- winking and/or blinking
- looking over your shoulder as you read
- a poke to your side as they pass by
- refusing to meet your eyes
- playing footsie
- sniffing the air
- squeezing your shoulder
How do you respond?
Do you ignore the non-verbal knock? Do you ever slam the door?
Or do you just give a cheerful wave as you pass-on-by … to carry on with your own agenda?
How likely is it your spouse knows you are available to listen – now – right this minute?
Are you sure they know you are responding?
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