I want you to imagine this with me; you just had something horrible happen to you “however you define horrible” – you walk by to your husband wanting to tell him about it and cry on his shoulders, but you’re also horrified and unable to express yourself in an understandable manner; you’re crying, and making sounds as if talking but nothing really is clear- this is how stressed you are.
You’re husband on the other hand, tries to receive you with kindness at first; “what’s wrong? What happened?” and here you are trying to explain but nothing is coming out of you except weird sounds – he then says things like; “I don’t understand you! And honey would you please just calm down a bit so I can understand?” and that just frustrates you more and more, because you can’t calm down, this is exactly why you came over to him, to help sooth you and calm you down. You cry lauder.
Well, this isn’t working for your husband at this point, he loves you so much, but he can’t understand you while you’re being hysterical and making nothing but weird sounds. Besides he really has some other things to do around the house; yes things that you’ve asked him to do like folding the laundry or organizing the garage or adjusting the cable. So he looks at you and says “ Honey, I can’t understand you this way, so I am going to leave you till you can talk to me in a calm, rational way. Because this just isn’t working” – and maybe he’ll add “you’re not a child to act the way you’re doing right now”.
My magical question is; How would you feel? Actually how are you feeling now just reading this?
Angry, hurt, frustrated? Does words like unvalued, unheard come to your mind? Okay, would you think of your husband at this moment as caring, loving, nurturing and has empathy? Did you, by his doing, get the security you were longing for?
I want you to ponder on these feelings a bit and on the needs behind them that were unmet and how this situation –if happened- would be very hurtful.
Now reflect, if you ever do this to your children? Your toddler comes by crying their hearts out about how the window is closed or the bird just flew; what do you usually do? What if you’re older child was talking in an unpleasant passionate way, would you say something like – I will not hear you except when you talk nicely? What about if they are having a tantrum about something? Do you ignore them? Yell lauder? Or do you empathize with their pain, sooth them; calm them down and then try to reason?
It’s hurtful for us adults, sometimes beyond our capacity when people we love, care for and trust ignore us at moments of vulnerability and yet we claim that as adults we have the tools and skills to overcome this hurt and reason to a better situation. But our children don’t have these same tools or skills to reason and deduce what our intentions are, they see things as they come in face value. So the message they get when ignored; is hurtful, demeaning and insecure.
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Marwa Advocates for freedom, peace, and building compassionate homes.