If I were to give every married couple one gift, one tool with which to build their future together, it would be the “I hear you.” (Or as Dr. Hill says, the “Oooo”)
In the early years of my relationship with my husband, our conflicts could last days. Sometimes weeks! We would get stuck in cyclones of emotion and misunderstanding, unable to hear each other, unable to connect. After years of learning each other, we knocked those cyclones down to hours or days instead of days or weeks. Now, because of the Connection Codes, and the “I hear you”, our communication cycle usually last minutes, sometimes seconds, and very rarely gets the chance to become a cyclone.
Learning to “Oooo” each other has had a profound impact on our connection and communication. In the past, our go-to response to each other’s emotions was often to defend ourselves or to try and encourage the other. Now we know to “Oooo”, to follow each other’s energy and to just be present with each other instead of trying to “out-logistic” each other’s emotions.
In the past, if one of us had expressed emotion about some aspect of our life, the other would have been likely to respond with something like,
“I’m doing the best I can! I’m sorry that’s not good enough for you.”
“It could be worse, just think about all of our blessings…”
Sometimes we responded this way out of good intentions; we love each other and don’t want the other to feel sad or mad or afraid. Sometimes we responded as a defense mechanism if what the other shared was related to something we had done or not done or some aspect of who we are.
All of this looks so different now. Last week, for example, my husband came home for our Friday family night after a long week of working late and dealing with tax season stress. Soon after getting home there was a moment where he vented to me about work and things in our home that are in disrepair and about something related to the kids and our busy weekend. In the past, I would have resisted this expression of emotion. I would have tried to encourage him or jumped to my own defense if what he said triggered my own emotion.
This time, though what he said about the house and the children did trigger guilt and shame for me because what he mentioned related to issues for which I am usually responsible, I was able to “Oooo” him while also noticing and acknowledging my own emotion.
In the past, I would not have been aware that it was guilt and shame I was experiencing. In the past I would have experienced that moment as an attack, I would have experienced him as the bad guy, I would have responded defensively and that would have started our cyclone, likely impacting (or ruining) a large portion of our night.
Now, with the lense and tools of the Connection Codes, I am able to just say, “I hear you” in response to my husband’s emotion. And I am able to identify my own emotion and what triggered it. Now I can remember that my husband is my friend and my teammate even in the moment of emotion and I can respond to the entire situation with compassion.
There is some kind of powerful magic in knowing we have been seen and heard exactly as we are in that moment and that we have been received without the other trying to change us. When my husband says, “I hear you” something in me calms, releases, relaxes and the river of emotion just flows smoothly on through. Those three words feel like a healing balm on my soul.
The Connection Codes have shown us how to communicate and connect in a way that we just didn’t have the map or the tools for before. It sounds too good to be true but I am living it and I see what it has done for our marriage and our home. I have never felt more safe, more connected, or more grateful for the relationship I get to share with my spouse. I want that for every other marriage too.