You walk over to the bathroom sink. You pump some lavender-scented soap onto your hands. You wash, you rinse… and you scowl as you see that the sink is full of hair – again.
“We’ve talked about this,” you say to your partner, annoyed. “Could you please remember to rinse your hairs out of the sink after you shave?”
“Oh, right,” he replies with an exasperated sigh. “Sorry.”
He’s not stupid. He’s not stubborn. (Okay, maybe he is stubborn, but that’s not all that’s going on.)
He is quite literally living in a different world.
In his world, the sink is not disgusting.
Those pesky little hairs are invisible to his eyes.
Imagine if your mother pointed to a spotless kitchen floor and said to you, “See those stains? We’ve talked about this. Could you please remember to clean the stains off of the floor?”
You look more closely, and you see tiny faint stains that are practically invisible, and have basically become part of the tile. It seems ridiculous to you that your mother would even be able to see those tiny faint stains, much less freak out about them.
That’s what it’s like for your partner when you point out the hairs.
They’re invisible to him. They’re not important. They’re not worth noticing.
They don’t bother him, and so it simply doesn’t make sense to him that they really bother you.
It’s not that he doesn’t believe you – it’s just that he doesn’t get it, and so when you talk to him about it, it doesn’t stick. It doesn’t sink in.
What you can do about it:
There are 3 steps to helping your partner “get it.”
Step 1: Keep your eyes peeled.
You can’t solve a problem unless you first notice it. Some tipoffs might include:
- Feeling frustrated about something you’ve talked about many times not “sinking in”
- Your partner making a wrong guess about what you’re thinking or feeling
- Feeling not seen, not heard, or not understood
When you notice any of these tipoffs, proceed immediately to step 2.
Step 2: Take a breath.
Remember, if you want this to get better – if you want your relationship to be deep, passionate, and stable – yelling or nagging isn’t the way.
Instead, take a deep breath, and remind yourself:
He’s living in a different world. He’s not being stupid. He’s not being stubborn. He’s just being human.
Step 3: Build a bridge.
To help him understand what it’s like to live in your world, you need to build a bridge that connects his world to yours.
Here’s an example:
“Remember that one time I ate crackers in bed?”
“Yeah. I was tossing and turning all night because there were crumbs under the sheets!”
“When I see hairs in the sink, it feels to me like crumbs under the sheets feels to you.”
“*long pause* Oh.”
That long pause is your partner walking over the bridge you just built. He’s finally stepping into your shoes, seeing the world the way you see it, understanding how you really feel.
If you know your partner well enough to know which bridges to build, and if you love your partner enough to make the effort, you will be rewarded.
Every bridge you build brings you closer to understanding each other more deeply and connecting even more closely.
So keep your eyes peeled for this kind of misunderstanding! Catch it in action, take a deep breath, and build a bridge!
Over to You
- Leave a comment and tell me: What’s one example of you and your partner living in different worlds?
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