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Saving Ourselves -- Part 5

In the work of Mark Gregston, one piece of advice about relationship building and rebuilding is to "listen more and answer less."  The advice is to stop telling the other what you are thinking until your are asked for your opinion...
  • Just be quiet.
  • Stop lecturing.
  • Start listening.
  • Hush and get out of the way -- let the other take the lead.

For those of us who live inside of unequal power balances, this presents an interesting set of challenges and begs the question -- "who should be quiet, and who should listen more -- or answer less?"  Most often, and surely within the relationship that He and I have, the tendency is to assume that His opinions and ideas are more valid, more "right," and more likely to be heard than mine.  After all, He is THE MASTER, with all that that implies.  Working our way through the difficult days, part of the work has been to "renegotiate" that understanding.  Moving forward, we both need to know what the expectations are within our relationship.  He and I have never been inclined to do that sort of bargaining in formal terms, and so for us, it has been a slow and organic process -- we have felt our way along, pretty tentatively, trying to understand where we are.

Before our crash, I tended to simply retreat when His views and mine did not match.  I'd say my piece, and then, if He contradicted it, or disagreed, I'd simply concede the point.  Even when I knew He was "off base," (and yes, it is possible for Master-types to be seriously off base), I'd let it go.  That worked to maintain the peace, mostly, but it likely contributed to us veering dangerously off course.  Some might have viewed my silence, in those instances, as appropriately submissive, but I sense that I did not serve well in allowing myself to be bullied and pushed into acquiescence with behavior and choices that obviously put us all at risk.

In Gregston's view, the idea would be to remain quiet; to listen until you partner initiates the inquiry into what you think -- until they WONDER about it.  I can't imagine that I will ever live long enough to maintain sufficient quiet that He will really wonder what I think.  When He is interested in generating a conversational give and take between us, He has plenty of skill around initiating that exchange, but I believe that I'll never "wait Him out" on that "what are you thinking" field of play.

And there's another facet to this that Gregston doesn't really address, and that is "sound."  For me, it
is not so much what I say, or don't say, but more about how I sound.  As long as the voice I use is sweet and light and happy, He'll talk and relate.  If I let my voice convey frustration, hurt, anger, or any sort of darkness, He pulls away and things get miserable.   So for me, for now, the "telling" part of our communication is more often a problem when I am reactive rather than when I am actually trying to just simply SAY something.   It is a verbal sort of female teasing and flirtiness that lures Him into conversation much more successfully than my grumpy, aggrieved voice. 



  1. Ordalie12:08 AM

    I'd say this applies as a general principle! You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  2. Impish112:54 PM

    I think this is so true, but still confusing. You could be discussing our relationship. The problem is: ultimately, problems must be discussed, wrinkles ironed out, and I haven't figured out how to do that "impishly".

  3. I am sure you are right, Ordalie. It is a rare man who isn't happier to hear his woman sounding sweet and lovey, and happy men are more open in general, it is true.

    I know that; understand that, but I think I am struggling with the dilemma that impish1 illuminates: how do we take feelings of fear and frustration and anger and bitterness and express them in voices that don't send our men off and away? How do we initiate the conversations about problems and disagreements without sounding disagreeable, and so making the problems worse?

    Even more to the point for "us," how do we do that inside of the constraints of our power balanced relationships?


  4. Ordalie11:33 PM

    Quite true, swan! It's perhaps because we bottle up our anger, then it rankles and gets worse and we can't speak without sounding bitter.

    The answer perhaps is dealing with the problem at once, not keeping it until later.

    This reminds me of a story I read long ago of a man who used to stay in his study, all windows open to enjoy the late afternoon warmth in summer. His wife used to come, shut the windows and draw the curtains well before nightfall. He fumed inwardly and said nothing until the day he yelled: "for God's sake, let the windows open!". And his wife, quite shocked, answered: " Why didn't you just say so before?"


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