How Real Love Transformed a Marriage.
Veronica called to share with me an interaction she'd had the night before with her husband, Dan. For years their relationship had been a series of unpleasant interactions distinguished by anger, victimhood, and withdrawal, but then they learned about Real Love and genuinely applied the principles.
"Last night we were brushing our teeth," Veronica said to me. "Dan was squeezing the last microscopic trace of toothpaste out of the tube, something I have made fun of in the past. In fact, I was about to throw out the tube he was squeezing. He turned to me and with the slightest smug grin said, 'See? Look how much was left.'"
Veronica said to Dan, "Yeah, that's really great. Have fun with that."
Just as cool as a breeze Dan responded, "Please finish the sentence."
Choosing Not to Be Defensive
Veronica thought for a moment, making a decision not to be defensive. She actually thought about what the unspoken message was that she was giving Dan—or at least the one he was hearing. It came to her in a flash and she said to him–without the slightest trace of defensiveness—"Have fun with that, IDIOT."
They both burst into laughter as they realized that this was the kind of unspoken message they had both been speaking to each other for years, but this was the first time they had handled it honestly and lovingly. It was an unspeakable relief—hence the laughter.
"Thank you," Dan said. "Now that you have finished being snippy, you can finish brushing your teeth . . . idiot."
They howled together again in shared mirth. She said, "Think you can throw that tube away now?"
He made a circular motion that most of us would understand as a desire to have her continue—in this case to finish her sentence. She obliged him: "Think you can throw that tube away now, idiot?"
After more laughter, Dan said, "Your grammar is improving. So nice to hear you finish your sentences now."
They laughed together again. "It was the most fun," Veronica said to me. "That kind of interaction used to send us into arguing, shouting, sulking, everything. And here we talked about a previously difficult topic easily—more than one actually, since it wasn't really about the toothpaste. It wasn't just easy. We felt closer because of it. This honesty and not being angry is pretty great stuff."
Yeah, it really is.