I don't know where I heard this...I thought I did and after digging and researching online, I can't find it. Regardless, it stuck and I've been wanting to share it. To give you a bit of background, my wife and I have devoted a lot of our time over the past few years to reaching out to other couples, no matter where they are on their journey. From a marriage retreat to a marriage study in our home and now a financial class that just so happens to conclude tonight. Through it all...even the Dave Ramsey class we're wrapping up, COMMUNICATION is a key and critical piece to making any relationship work. It is often the cornerstone that is so out of whack, couples can't see straight. Communication is NOT talking side-by-side while watching TV or a movie, or small talk in the car...or yelling at each other. OK...yes, that IS communicating but not the quality kind that I believe is critical if you plan to make it "till death do you part." Eye to eye, being real, being authentic...sharing life, communicating, crying, laughing, working through disagreements towards resolution...it's communication. Enter the subject of "Sharing Withhelds"...
Step 1: Both of you write down three items on a blank piece of paper...in this order. The first item is something positive you've noticed the other person do or say recently but did not mention at the time. Perhaps something you really appreciated or meant a lot to you. Second, write down something negative that was said or done. Lastly, repeat the first step but with another instance. Keep these examples relatively current...within the last few days to a maximum one week ago. It can be anything and could've happened anywhere and at anytime.
Step 2: Once finished, one of you goes first and reads the first compliment. After hearing it, the receiving spouse/partner/friend simply says..."Thank you." Next up is the negative one but get this...the reply is the same...."Thank you." This is a controlled environment, not meant for argument or debate, but a place to "peel back the onion" and say what's on your heart...the good and bad. Lastly, state the 3rd item and the receiver replies the same. OK? Deep breath.... :)
Step 3: It's the other person's turn and the replies should mimic the last step. Remember...do your best not to react on that second one! Simply let it soak in and digest it. Obviously, whatever "it" is was a big enough deal to linger in their head and make it to paper...so even if it doesn't matter to YOU, it matters to THEM so it SHOULD matter to YOU! But for now...just a "thank you" will suffice.
Step 4: That's pretty much it...except for this one BIG rule: For the next 30 minutes, that negative comment conveyed to each other is not to be discussed or debated...don't even bring it up. The gut reaction is going to be to debate it and defend your ground...but don't. Simply let it soak in and think about it. If after 30 minutes you still want to discuss it in further detail, extend apologies, or whatever, then that's ok...but let it go for a solid 30 minutes. Guaranteed: your reaction after 30 minutes will absolutely NOT be your reaction immediately following "Sharing Withhelds"...and honestly, there may be NO reaction at all after 30 minutes.
That's it! Communication is key to everything. If you can't communicate effectively, it's never going to work the way it COULD work if you communicated well. Remember, you're not enemies...you should be each others best friend and communicating well will help you move towards that goal.