Otter Meets Lion
“No,” he said with less than an adequate amount of interest or enthusiasm to please me, the idea generator.
Don’t you just want to whack your husband sometimes? I confess, I do.
Here I have come up with the most brilliant plan for a family vacation and after describing things in detail all I get is the dreaded, “No,” accompanied by silence and no offer of an alternate plan.
This was early in our marriage.
The solution to this abrupt conversation stopper started a few years ago. My husband refers to me as a “random idea generator” because I am always thinking of ideas at home, at church, at work, while driving in the car (it is truly random and constant)—he actually tells me I am quite exhausting to listen to at times.
The way I see it, someone has to talk … or there would be so much silence. Someone has to come up with ideas … or life would be so boring. Now I realize there are those of you who are in my camp and those of you who are in my hubby’s camp. Neither of us is wrong, just different in the way we approach life.
According to one of those personality tests, I am an otter and he is a lion, and for many years his roar or silence would hurt my feelings and my incessant talking and idea discussions would drive him batty. What is such a polar opposite couple to do?
Our solution is what I call subtle code language. It took me a while to figure it out, but a few years ago I started to see a pattern. Most of the time my talking and ideas would be met with, “That’s an idea.” But every now and then I’d get, “That’s a good idea.” And there were those rare occasions when I would even hear, “That’s a great idea.”
I recognized this was Hubby’s subtle way of showing me he was listening, he was engaged, but not every single idea that was brilliant to me was brilliant to him. Simple, but it worked. When I pointed it out to him he didn’t even really realize he was doing it, but we nonetheless agreed that it helped me feel heard and gave him a “safe” answer to my queries.
I shared our understood code language with a friend recently and she found use for it herself. Before Christmas she was going through a litany of ideas of what to get the extended family for Christmas and her husband kept saying, “No, no, no,” to every idea. She was getting frustrated at his attitude and was unappreciative of his negativity. So she shared with him the concept of, “That’s an idea,” or “That’s a good idea.” Her husband appreciated the chance to improve his sensitivity and he embraced the code language—ultimately, her whole family did!
She did say she has grown weary of the mischievous laughter when her teen sons look at her and say, “That’s an idea,” and snicker.
So be careful who you share this strategy with. And yes, I do realize you could simply say of this entire post, “That’s an idea.”
But really … I think it’s brilliant.