You’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about; your special someone just will not open up and tell you why they appear not to be themselves—so you think. This is a hugely difficult dynamic. You ask yourself, “Do I push for answers, or just keep quiet?”
Is it Real?
How do you know if there really is a problem? It seems as such; their behavior has changed just slightly. They’re just not quite as attentive as usual. Sure, it could be you, or it could be something that has absolutely nothing to do with you. How do you know? Just how pushy should you be in attempting to discover if there really is an issue?
Living in Oblivion
For years, I have used a cartoon in my seminars to make the point of male cluelessness. Visualize the picture; upon entering the house, still at the front door, a spear hits the door inches from his head. The caption reads, “Although he thought their argument had been settled at breakfast, Jim sensed that Sally had some unresolved issues.” So the challenge becomes living one’s life, skating on thin ice—ice that is really a continuum that stretches between oblivious and aggressive. The fact is…you are going to fall on that hard ice once in a while.
It’s Not Easy
To illustrate how difficult this dynamic really is—I’ve been married for 35 years to the same woman, and I frequently still get it wrong. Sometimes I’m oblivious when I should be attentive and then other times I’m pushy when I should let things be. But, there is hope in communication; keep talking. Through sympathy, empathy, and compassion in conversation, you have your best chance of determining if it was you that screwed up or if your partner is simply dealing with some stuff that does not concern you.
The truth will set you free, if your partner will just share it with you. First, in human relationships, I believe it is better to ask too may questions as opposed to not enough. With that said, it is also prudent not to be a pain in the neck. Yet, if we take a lesson from children, when they want something they are relentless in asking. Blending both ideas; be gentle but keep the communication going. Keep seeking answers, and do it from different perspectives. Do not keep asking the same question, but shift how you ask to broach the subject through different windows.
Let’s take a lesson from my old boss. In the mid-1970s, I was in outside sales and worked for a gentleman by the name of Ray Kahn. He told me, numerous times, if you make a mistake and lose an account, no problem. However, if you lose an account because you were not paying attention—I don’t need you. I witnessed Ray firing a salesman, Mike, for losing a major account because he was simply not paying attention. Whatever you do, don’t lose your partner in life because you were asleep at the wheel.
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.