But Relationships Are Personal…
“Don’t take it personally.” This is an important principle to remember in a couple relationship. Yet, it is one of the hardest things to actually do. Relationships are personal. So, how am I supposed to not take what my partner says and does personally?
Maybe a simple example will help. Erin and I (Stephen) were walking our dog in the park this past weekend. I noticed she was being terse and a little cranky with me. I said, “Hey, are you alright, are you feeling okay?” She didn’t really respond and kept up with the crankiness.
A Simple Example
Now, I could take this personally. What’s her problem? I didn’t do anything etc. I happened to remember that she said she was not feeling well. I also recalled that when I am not feeling well I tend to act like a real piece of work. So, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. She might just be feeling bad and doesn’t really even notice she seems off.
We finished our walk and the day moved on. Later that night Erin said, “Hey, I realize I was a little off. I wasn’t feeling well and when you asked me if I was okay I didn’t really even know anything was wrong. But I feel better now and I can tell I was being short with you. Sorry.”
Be Curious and Use Your Imagination
I appreciated Erin taking some time to think about what had happened at the park. For me, not taking it personally meant two things. 1) Be curious about what might be going on for Erin. 2) Imagine how I might respond when I experienced something similar. Notice what not taking it personally does not mean. It does not mean you don’t say anything. Also, it does not mean you ignore being bothered by something.
Not taking things personally means you act with curiosity and imagination. This is in contrast to reacting with defensiveness and anger. It sure helped Erin and I continue to enjoy our walk and have an opportunity to feel connected later in the day.