When was the last time you had a totally satisfying and fulfilling conversation with your spouse?
Last year, we did a session with a group of married women on Connecting Through Conversations, and in the last one year as I put that into practice, I have to admit that it has brought my marriage to an even deeper level of understanding and alignment. I’d like to share a little more about this topic here and I hope it will encourage married women to see the importance of transformational conversations.
A quick recap – there are three levels of conversations we typically have on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis – Transactional, Positional and Transformational.
- Level 1: Transactional conversations are when we’re merely passing information between spouses, e.g. “The baby has been fed”, “I have paid the phone bill”, “We’re having dinner with Mum & Dad” etc.
- Level 2: Positional conversations are when we’re trying to persuade, influence or state our position in the conversation, e.g. “I think we should migrate because there are better opportunities overseas”, “Penang has the best hawker food.”
- Level 3: Transformational conversations are the deepest type of conversation and as the name suggests, have the potential to transform any one of our relationships – not just our marriage. Questions like “what are your hopes and dreams? How can I support you in achieving those dreams?”, “What are important values we want to teach our children?”, or even a simple clarifying question like, “What do you mean?” will invite a deeper sharing of ideas, opinions and thoughts.
Layers of Trust
Before we can even begin to have transformational conversations, we must first have trust and a willingness to be vulnerable in our marriage. You might think it strange for me to suggest this. However, if we really reflect on how much trust we have in our spouse, and how vulnerable we’re willing to be with them, we may just surprise ourselves.
Trust is built one conversation at a time.
Think about a time when you and your spouse had a difference of opinion, and subsequently, and there was no meeting on common ground.
Did you feel heard, or rejected?
Now, think of another time when you had a difference of opinion, and subsequently, your spouse was able to understand where you were coming from.
How did that make you feel? Heard, understood and accepted?
That’s how trust is built. And when we have more of these experiences together, the trust level grows deeper. Note to self – this was just based on the positional type of conversations. Imagine when we’re able to progress to transformational conversations where the things we talk about are the desires of our hearts, our innermost thoughts and feelings. This has the potential to shape our future in the various hats we wear as a spouse, a parent, a daughter/son, a friend, a colleague. How we build up our spouse and vice versa has an exponential impact to our personal self-esteem, to our ability to listen to others without judging nor feeling judged, and to our capacity to empathize and be compassionate.
This August, I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with my husband. We have been together for 32 years, and so one would think that we have a lot of trust built over that time span. In many areas, we have – I trust that he would listen to me objectively even if I had a not-so-nice things to say about his side of the family; he trusts me to respect his decisions even if it means we will be in some hardships for a period; I trust my husband to have a lunch appointment with a female colleague any time (although he admits he would rather not put himself in any position of temptation).
However, I realized that I had not put enough trust in him to share my own hopes and dreams. Of course, this may have been because I was busy putting his plans and the children’s future and ambitions before mine that I never really took time to think about what I wanted to do, until I realized that my children were growing up, and there would be a point where they would no longer need me to be their taxi mum.
At some personal and private level, I needed to face some truths myself, and I was not sure if I had the courage to even speak of my hopes and dreams. Eventually, the need to explore became too much to bear, and I told him of my hope and dream of opening our home to either be an Airbnb, or a Bed & Breakfast. He actually looked at me and very calmly said that it was something he could see me doing, and he would love to be a part of bringing that into fruition.
Since then, he has done many check-ins with me on when I thought would be a good time to explore the idea, what would we need to do to our current house to make it happen or if we needed to buy a new property, etc. If my trust, love and admiration were not deep enough, they have certainly grown even deeper since we’ve begun this conversation. I feel his love through his check-ins, because it reveals to me his commitment, I feel his sincerity through the thoughtfulness of his probing questions, and I feel his seriousness to the commitment through the ever-increasing ways he now sees in the intricacies of running a household, and therefore the business aspect to come.
All these are the layers of trust built over one conversation upon another. As husband and wife, we’re often reminded that we’re on the same team. If we’re bold to be open and vulnerable, our spouse will listen with openness & without judgement. Cheering you on to start a bold transformational conversation today!
Veron Soong is a certified Christian Life Coach, and NLP Practitioner.