Creating generous safe spaces for one another, is a tool I speak of often with clients, and witness working wonders in their relationships, and in even dating client’s quest for love.
Recently on a trip with my husband Mark, I had the opportunity to implement this real super star tool in my hefty coaching box. To consciously create a generous and safe space for him to come home to after making a mistake. To reject my own fears and frustration in favor of being a nurturing and welcoming landing pad. AND to not relish in said mistake. Cause, sometimes I really do like a big ol’ relish at his expense.
Mark’s mistake was not monumental, not one of those epic deal breaking mistakes we hear of blasting marriages to bits upon impact, like cheating, gambling or physical violence, for example. The big bombs create immediate havoc, leveling cities and marriages alike in the blink of an eye. However, make no mistake about it, the #1 killer of long term partnerships, ain’t the big bombs. It’s the everyday instances; the way we speak to one another, the way we care for one another, how we show respect for each other and live in congruence with each other, that are the insidious often barely visible missiles that bit by bit, tear love apart. AND once those silent but deadly daily missiles build up, they are wayyy harder to come back from. A leveled city, is much easier to build on anew. A place where every other window is broken, every third board is rotting and god knows what happening behind the walls … definitely much harder to renovate.
So in my best Sophia from Golden Girls impression… Picture it! Italy! 2016! We’ve just picked up a gorgeous rental car, a zippy 2 door convertible, for 4 glorious days of driving around the incredible scenic Italian countryside. A blissful holiday we have been planning for months. It’s been a rough few months. We have both been working hard. Both sharing that similar, THIS trip is the light at the end of the tunnel holiday vibe. (Oh expectation, you sneaky devil). We get an hour or so away from the car rental place and into some tiny Italian village back street… and CRUNCH! CRACK! BAM! ! There goes the mirror on the rental car. And BOOM! There goes the 1400euro deductible flashing before my eyes. The money gremlins, the ones who always whisper to me “You’ll never have enough!” and “Where you gonna get the money for that, sister?!?”, are on me. I look over at my husband, and his whole face is crestfallen. He has his own money gremlins. Sometimes we take them on play dates together and boy do they make a mess. He also has slow methodical perfectionism gremlins. The annoying measure twice (or a hundred times) and cut once OR ELSE the world as we know it will end’ gremlins. Those little bastards, do not play, barely ever giving him a moment of peace, to be human. And right then, in the picturesque Italian alley, they’re crawling all over him.
Sometimes, we get really lucky, and life freeze frames for second. I know, I got lucky that day. And in that freeze frame, two roads present themselves. One, I know well. HATE STREET; Fear, anger, shame, self-righteousness and downright petty meanness live there. They throw epic dinner parties and my face is well known in those circles, I’ll have you know. And on the other road, LOVE STREET; is where faith, vulnerability, compassion, kindness, empathy, solace and unconditional love, live. I know that road too, though admittedly nowhere near as well as the other. Mark was standing on Hate Street, trying to decide which house he deserved to go into first for doing something so stupid. Shame? Fear? Self-loathing? All doors on Hate Street were wide open to him.
In the freeze frame, I thought…Do I join him? Do I pile on with the rest of the hate crew? Or do I grab his hand and make a run for Love street? In theory, on screen as I type it, the choice seems obvious. But we all know, in the moment... with the gremlins about, it’s so not. I took a deep breath, made my decision, held up one hand to hate street, grabbed my husband’s hand with the other and said come with me, my darling. I did not tell him how he should have done it different, how I would have never made that same error (lemme’ tell you, I was never so glad to NOT be the one driving!), I did not make the comment that was standing proud on my tongue “well there goes 1400 euros we don’t have” and instead I said, “hey cookie, its only money”, that I loved him, then I looked deep into his eyes very seriously and thanked him being the one to crack up the rental car, first. Smirk. And we laughed. And the gremlins, that were just seconds ago badgering him, started to disappear. Then I hit those bastards right where it hurts and said to Mark, “come on pal, let’s get you some gelato” and that sent them running! Was there self-preservation in there? Sure, I also saw in that freeze frame, in that crestfallen little boys face on my husband, that this silly accident, could totally shoot this holiday down in flames, for him AND for me, by association. But more than anything, I wanted to live on LOVE STREET. I wanted to show this incredible man, that I had his back and was rooting for him, even when he wasn’t. I wanted to be his best friend. That we were there to fight the good fight, shoulder to shoulder, together.
AND, when the following day he cracked up the side panel on a curb, I only let out one, single, solitary “JESSSSSUS MARKKKK!” Whoopsie, missed my freeze frame for a hot minute there.
Now, just because it’s a super star tool that saves and revives partnerships every day, it doesn’t make it any more intuitive to reach out for, and definitely no easier to harness firmly every time. I find for me, and the people I work with, making the conscious decision to do something different, to create a space of kindness and safety for our partner to come home to when the everyday world is playing it’s little shit show, very hard indeed. But these little sacred spaces we create for one another, these small moments of generousity... matter. And the impact on the dynamic, HUGE. Like anything else, with practice we make progress, and with practice we make new habits.
Or hey, maybe it was just how FAB I looked in that scarf and sunglasses that turned his frown upside down????
#Generouswithlove #relationshipgoals #relationshipcoaching