No matter how much you love someone, spending 24 hours a day, 365 days a year together is going to have some ups and downs. As we get closer to our departure date, I’m thinking more about the relationship perks, strains, and changes that lie ahead. You may not be traveling around the world with your mate, but if you are working on any sort of project together – hell, even the just adjusting to the first year of living together – you will probably be able to relate.
The main thing I’ve been worried about lately is criticism. See, we live together, work part-time together, and are setting off on this trip together. While we do love each other, we also have to be business partners. And it has been hard for me to adjust to that last part, at least in the area of criticism.
For a while I’ve been thinking that Warren is too harsh in his criticism. And he thinks I’m too sensitive and make it hard for him to say things that need to be said to propel this blog, our business, and this trip forward.
So I’ve performed a little experiment that has changed my perspective on the situation. Perhaps this can help you, too.
The Sensitivity Experiment
For one week, I carried around a little notebook and noted when Warren said neutral or positive comments to me and the times he said negative comments. For the times he was negative, I waited a couple of days and then re-read the comment it to see if it still seemed overly-critical to me.
Want to know the results?
It appears that I’m the one with the problem. And that sucks, because I’m pretty good at the martyr role and now I don’t get to play it.
Seriously, though, this little experiment has opened my eyes and helped me shift my perspective in what used to be a complete blind spot. It was impacting our business and our relationship.
No one wants to hear criticism, and most people don’t like to give it. I’m incredibly lucky that I have a partner who wants to improve our life and business. Oh yeah, and he has a lot of patience, too.
Are You Overly Sensitive?
If you get your feelings hurt a lot or you think someone is giving you a hard time, it might be worthwhile to try this experiment. Don’t make a big deal out of it, and certainly don’t tell the other person you are doing it or it will skew the findings.
One thing I found while I was doing this little experiment was that I was actively evaluating his comments to me instead of immediately going on the defensive when I heard any comment short of “you are fabulous and our life is perfect.” That in itself was a great lesson for me, no matter how the experiment came out. We all have a great deal of control in how we handle the messages to us, and interpreting them clearly – good or bad – is the first step in responding appropriately.
Do you think you are overly sensitive? Or do you love, work, or live with someone who is? How do you handle it?
For more insights into how we’ve made our love and life work, get a copy of our book Married with Luggage: What We Learned About Love by Traveling the World. We share the ongoing discoveries and lessons we’ve learned as the follow our dream together.