One morning recently I decided to make my husband a tasty cup of coffee to sip on while he drove to his first job for the day. As I poured the fresh, frothy milk and filtered through my own coffee drinking preference I said; “here you go, Babe. It’s straight milk and coffee (not my vibe), I hope it’ll be warm enough for you.” I was rather bewildered to hear the following words come knocking at my eardrums; “That’s all good, my love. When I leave the house, everything gets better.”
I mean, is it just me or is that something that seriously needs a bit of clarifying? “Uh, everything gets better when you leave the house?” I asked with a slight, almost nervous, giggle. “No, haha, no – I mean to say that when I leave the house, this coffee will be better because it’s the only coffee I’ll have. It will be perfect.” And so we laughed it off.
My view of relationships, whether they are romantic ones or friendships, relationships with colleagues or our family, is that each one is uniquely objective. I see them as something separate from the people involved in them. Relationships are living, vulnerable spaces that we show up to, stepping in and out, as we contribute and participate in them and I believe that showing up in our relationships, is what determines their quality and longevity.
In the delicate coffee moment, showing up to the relationship between my husband and I was choosing to enter into a conversation that pursued clarity and understanding about what was meant versus what was said. This sounds easy, and on a good day it is, but often there’s far more going on for people than we know, and turning up on hard days can be incredibly challenging.
For us, we had just been in tears together at the breakfast table, processing the anniversary of a significant loss we experienced early into our marriage. Given my level of sensitivity that day, turning up to try to understand what my husband had just meant was deliberate. The moment could have easily gone pear-shaped, had I made a different decision; to turn away from the relationship, in the name of offence.
So I wonder, how many of the misunderstandings we’ve had and offences we’ve taken during the course of our relationships are merely a consequence of not turning up to a difficult conversation?
I’m thinking about this a lot lately and the answer for my relationships is; so many.
As I reflect, it becomes clear that the degree to which we are willing to turn up to an uncomfortable conversation will inevitably shape the direction, depth and condition of the relationships in our lives. And, if we believe that the quality of our relationships is what defines us most in life, then showing up couldn’t be more important.
What do you think?