October 1

Unloving Moments

October 1, 2012

Marriage, Parenting

A coach suggested that we collect some of the unloving things that people say, especially the ones that the speaker would not recognize as unloving. "I hate you" is universally recognized as unloving, but we have so many subtle—and therefore much more accepted—ways to indicate our lack of acceptance. We'll compile a list of these expressions if you'll send them to me at Greg@RealLove.com. Following are a few examples:

Overheard in a supermarket, a mother spoke—in an irritated tone—to her eight-year old daughter: "The trouble with your birthday is that it falls right when we've got the mortgage and bills to pay!" The Real Love person who heard it nearly said, "Well, that's the trouble with having sex before pay day."

Parent to child: "How many times have I told you not to do that?" The message, of course, is "How could you be so stupid and difficult?"

"Why are you doing that?" Almost never is this a genuine question. It's an accusation, which should be phrased, "Why are you doing it that stupid way?" or "Why are you doing that after I told you not to?" or "How could you possibly do anything without telling me first?" Parents commonly say this to children, as do spouses to each other and bosses to their employees.

"Like I said . . ." This is a very common expression used by people who want to emphasize that they are repeating themselves to the other person. It would be more accurate to say, "I've already said this, but since you weren't listening when I said it the first time, I'm forced to say it again," or "If I keep repeating this, will you finally change your mind and agree with me?"

Nearly all of us grew up in an unloving atmosphere, and we are still surrounded by it, so we just don't realize how often we are unloving. Unloving behavior and words have become normal. Regrettably, when others are unloving, we do feel the pain of it, although usually we can't articulate exactly what is happening. Our unloving words are harmful enough, but we should also remember that studies have demonstrated that perhaps 85% or more of communication is non-verbal, so we express a lack of love to others far more often than we recognize.

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