My thoughts in the car after a garden-variety argument with my spouse on a long ride home:
If somebody says to you, “You hurt my feelings,” (1) believe them.
- Don’t argue.
- Don’t get defensive.
- Don’t tell them they’re wrong.
Just believe them. Because of your previous words or behaviors, they now feel pain.
An appropriate next step might be to (2) say, “I’m sorry. Can you tell me more?”
(3) And then listen and believe what they tell you next.
- You don’t have to agree with their interpretation.
- You don’t have to confess fault to a motive you didn’t have (unless you did have it).
- You don’t have to say everything else you’re thinking.
But can you just believe this is how they’re feeling? That this is what they’re hearing? That, intentionally or not, you have hurt them?
And if you really want to engage love, (4) can you listen closer to offer appropriately fresh words of compassion? (5) Perhaps give an apology for causing pain, asking for nothing in return? (6) Perhaps make a resolve to repair the damage and cause less pain next time?
There’s a difference between agreement and understanding. We don’t have to agree on everything. But can we attempt to better understand each other?
Show mercy. Give grace.
* * *
We all have conflicts with people we love. The way we respond in these clashes is what makes or breaks a day. A relationship. A life.
I’m grateful for the people (especially my spouse) who show me mercy, give me grace, and practice love with me when I need it most.
May I do likewise for them.
This is a life of love. It makes long car rides much more pleasant.
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