Incredibly, I was asked to be part of a brief church panel discussion on lessons from marriage. A lot of good spiritual advice was given, but I felt bad that there wasn’t much in the way of practical wisdom that was discussed. Rick did bring up communication (of a sort), however; he put it as, “listening to what she’s saying instead of what you’re hearing.”
This calls to mind the first episode of a new podcast I’ve subscribed to–The Hidden Brain. It’s an NPR podcast about “the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, the biases that shape our choices, and the triggers that direct the course of our relationships.”
The first episode begins with the concept of switch tracking, consciously or unconsciously changing the subject of conversation. It’s an important social concept to understand, and one that would have made me a lot wiser in a lot of difficult conversations.
You can listen to it here:
or go to the episode page.
There’s also lots of good advice in this series of Youtube videos about how to give and receive feedback. (Lesson 5: Don’t Switchtrack)
Having said all this, I used to be very concerned with upping my game in terms of relationships. (“As a young man” — do I have to say that now?!) I know better now that with a relationship as serious, as involving, as contentious and covenantal as marriage, tools, tactics, and techniques have serious limitations. It’s fine to try to learn as much as you can to try to better serve your spouse, but in the end, what I found I had was fool’s gold.
Real love comes from a higher power. Meet the numinous, and you’ll find he’s been switching tracks on you all along.