Our little family had quite the experience last night while gathered around the dinner table. My husband and I were in the throes of a marital spat, and our daughter’s expression of frustration with us created the perfect segue from dinnertime to a family emotion-processing event. I felt defensive, my husband was visibly sad, and the children’s shoulders drooped as they hunkered in under the emotional cloud cover that was descending upon the kitchen.
It was incredible to be so human together! In such moments I still tend to naively wish that life would stay rosy, that feelings never got hurt, and that things would just go my way. Thank goodness I will not have my wish, because in moments like these I see myself and my family grow, both in individual self-discipline and in our emotional connection to each other.
The reality is that difficult work is necessary to get over ourselves so we can sustain our most meaningful relationships. As we sat together, uncomfortable as we were, people began to communicate. It was work indeed. In my “can’t we all just get along” state of mind, the kind of communicating we did would not be considered pretty, but I am learning that it is in fact, beautiful. There were passionate voices, tears, attempts to leave the room, and sadness. But these were all real emotions, just like happiness, peace, laughter and togetherness. They were also the raw materials we could use to make selflessness, kindness, patience, and love win the moment, as long as we were willing to face them rather than flee. Honestly, if everything was always easy, how would we ever know how to use such wonderful principles well?
My husband courageously led the way, using sincere interest in our daughter’s feelings as the principle to combat selfishness. This action allowed her, and the other children, to express themselves truthfully. I chose to smile at him across the table, lending him my support despite the unpleasant feelings I had. As we talked through our painful emotions with the intent to understand one another and find resolution, tears soon turned to smiles, voices leveled, and hearts softened.
We witnessed the power of communication mending our emotions and re-uniting our feelings for one another. I feel we overcame and will be all the more prepared for the next round of misunderstanding.
Today’s post is contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com.