Recently, in a moment of minor marital stress, I stumbled upon something. These three words just came out of my mouth…and then I stopped in my tracks, forgot all about whatever I had been saying, and said “Oh my gosh. I just struck gold.”
Dave stared at me, mind racing to remember what I just said that I found to be so epic.
Then I said, “I might be a genius.”
I repeated the three words. (Dave still unsure…) I told him that after all of these years (this Sunday is our 19th anniversary) I think I actually discovered a key to better communication. And that it might revolutionize relationships all over the world.
I think I heard him mumble something about “slow down, honey…” But I wasn’t slowing down.
I explained why my three words were so brilliant. Out of nowhere flowed examples of how they could be used. Then I turned, and right there I tried the three words on my son. Beaming, I turned back to Dave, who was now nodding…in agreement.
You want to know what the words are, right? Well, I’m about to tell you–but first–let me lay a little foundation:
Every marriage book that I’ve read has said that one of our greatest needs as women…(and maybe as human beings)…is to feel known. We want to feel like someone gets us. Understands us. Accepts us. Affirms us. All of these make us feel loved.
I believe that kids have the same deep need.
I have often said that I can take a lot of disappointments or frustrations if I simply believe that my husband is tuned into how something makes me feel. If he is considering me. Acknowledging how things affect me.
Do you guys relate?
But this can be really hard for guys. They tend to think more objectively, and they usually say whatever is going on, plainly. They don’t mean to hurt us, they’re just communicating at the “fact level” much of the time. And, understandably: Female emotions can be a bit of a mystery to our guys (heck, I confuse myself half of the time.)
Kids also want long to feel acknowledged. How often one of my boys speaks his mind in a busy moment and without thinking I dismiss him, and then move on to the next thing while he stands there feeling completely ignored. Bull-dozed.
So we probably do this in all kinds of relationships, all of the time. But we know better, because we all have that longing to feel affirmed. Sometimes we use other words like wanting to feel “appreciated,” or “respected,” but I think they all come down to the same basic desire to feel connected and known.
As wives sometimes we dream that our guys will anticipate how we feel and they will speak out our feelings for us, and oh we will feel so loved.
But really. That’s just not how they’re wired.
And I’ve always wished for a way to simplify the whole thing.
I’ve just wondered if there is a way that I might help him…help me.
So now–I’m pinching myself–because I think actually have found a way.
It’s these three simple words:
“I KNOW YOU…”
I know you is just the first three words, but they launch into simple communication that validates and connects.
This is how I explained it: Start with those three words, then finish the sentence. You might say, “I know you feel this,” or “I know you need that.”…”I know you worked hard,” or “I know you waited.” “I know you’ve had a rough day,” or “I know you just cleaned that.” Maybe it’ll just be “I know this affects you.” Just tell me you know something about me. It’s ok if you don’t name my feelings perfectly, or even if you freeze up and have to ask me what my feelings are…(in fact, asking is welcome.) I will appreciate the fact that you’re pausing long enough to consider that I exist in the situation.”
Using the three word rule is a trigger to help us remember to consider another person. Husbands to wives, wives to husbands, parents to children, and far beyond.
I’m not talking complicated mind-reading here, just basic feelings.
Giving our guys these three words to stick in their back pocket, is like handing them a tool. And guys like tools.
What I love most about this little communication tool is that the three words being said, “I KNOW YOU,” are actually in and of themselves the message that our soul longs for. So each time they are spoken, we can be reminded of a deeper connection that is always there…but so often buried underneath the mess of every day life.
I hope you’ll try the three word rule with the people in your life. Experiment with your kids. Share it with your husband or wife. And of course, let me know how it goes!