Exploring Your Options
My husband and I are in a mixed marriage in all sorts of ways.
He’s French, I’m English. He’s Catholic, I’m Jewish. He’s an engineer, I’m a coach. Needless to say, we often need to stretch to find shared experiences and interests.
On Friday, my husband and I were driving downtown to spend a night out in celebration of our 16th anniversary. One of his favourite French-Canadian bands was playing on the radio.
I tried to enjoy it. I mean, the instrumental part is kind of fun. But despite my basic understanding of the French language, I did not get any of the words.
Trying to sound as well-tempered as I could, I said, “I don’t actually understand anything she’s saying.” He offered to change the station. The thing is, there isn’t a lot of music that we both like. I wanted to please him, but I also wanted to enjoy the music.
I spent a few minutes feeling utterly stuck. I saw only two choices:
1) Listen to the music I don’t understand and try to enjoy it, or
2) Switch to music I like more, but that my husband isn’t likely to enjoy as much
As I struggled with my choices, my husband was happily belting out the words to his music. I wished I felt as happy as him! Because I want to feel happy with him. And I want to feel good. But neither of my choices seemed as though they would make me feel good…or happy.
Then, I had a flash of the kind of insight that comes as a result of coaching. I realized that if neither of my perceived choices was going to get me what I wanted, then I needed to find another choice.
So I thought about what I wanted. I wanted to feel joy with my husband. I wanted to share experiences with him. Then it came to me – it was so simple. Since I didn’t understand the words, I could ask him to share them with me. So he did. And the more he did, the more I enjoyed it, and the more I understood the words on my own – an added bonus!
It ended up being one of our best drives ever. We didn’t care about the traffic. We didn’t care that we were late for our show. We were just enjoying our time together.
Thinking about what I wanted and then believing that I could have it gave me the opportunity to see a different choice. I just needed to remember two things:
1) If I am feeling stuck, the best way to recalibrate is to focus on what I want, and
2) If the choices I’m generating aren’t getting me closer to what I want, then I need to develop more choices.