Do you want to have a better relationship with your spouse? Not sure what to do to increase communication and emotional intimacy?
Recently, Christian Godefroy published a story titled “The Dancing Cow” in a newsletter I received. When I read the story, I immediately thought about how the main point applies to married couples.
This is the story:
Michal and Kental started arguing over which of them wrote the best music.
“My music is better,” said Michal. “My melodies bring tears to the eyes of all women.”
“No, my music is better,” Kental disagreed. “My scores are more charming than anything else! Your music cannot move a cow, my poor Michal.”
“And what do you think? That your scores would make him dance?”
The dispute was in full swing when a farmer drove his cow home from the field. The two musicians saw an opportunity to put their theories to the test.
“Hello,” they said. “Would you mind if we play something for your cow?”
“Well, if it gives you pleasure, why not? She has seen much worse in her day, I can tell you.”
Michal warmed his hands, tuned his balalaika (a stringed instrument of Russian origin) and played the most beautiful melody ever heard by a cow. But without
Result: the beast chewed without moving an ear.
Annoyed, Michal passed the instrument to his compatriot, who played an animated score with the same result: no reaction from the cow.
“It’s a lost cause,” Michal yelled. “Your cow has no ear for music.”
“Well, I don’t know that,” replied the peasant. “If you could lend me your instrument for a moment, I could play something for her.”
Intrigued, Michal and Kental handed over the balalaika. The peasant did his best to imitate the buzzing of flies and the lowing of cows. The cow raised its ears, began to wag its tail from side to side and approached the farmer as if to better hear the music.
The main point of the story according to Godefrey is that “if you have trouble communicating with people, it may be that, like Michal and Kental, you are not playing the music that they are used to hearing.” This is truly profound wisdom!
In other words, you must start where the other person is, using that person’s frame of reference. You cannot start where you are if the other person is not in the same place and does not have the same background and experience. First, you must enter the other person’s world and start with what is familiar to get their attention.
In the story, perhaps over time the cow may have learned to respond to other music in addition to the sounds that the peasant played at the beginning. But initially, the cow showed no reaction until the farmer touched the sounds the cow could identify with and was familiar with: the buzzing of flies and the lowing of vaquitas.
So the starting point for getting the cow’s attention and participation was to start making the sounds that the cow was most familiar with. The cow was able to relate to those sounds and responded with attention and movement.
Wondering how this applies to building a better relationship with your spouse? Here’s everything you need to remember to apply the moral of the dancing cow story: to start building better communication and a better relationship with your spouse, start in their world first – enter their world and start where you are right now. .
Here are some suggestions:
1. Temporarily minimize your own needs and what you want from your spouse. Start conversations in which you ask your spouse about their day, work, and activities, showing interest and empathy.
For example, you can say, “It must be frustrating to have a boss who changes his mind so much” or “You must have been disappointed when it rained and you couldn’t do your usual jog today after work.” See if she will open up and talk about her frustrations, disappointments, and dreams.
2. Make a concerted effort to understand your spouse’s mindset and feelings about things that happen in his (or her) world. If you have different opinions, try to understand why and how they differ. Imagine that you are on a debate team and you need to understand their point of view in order to present it to others and defend it.
If her musical tastes are different than yours, for example, be open to learning more about why she enjoys the music she makes. Look for any common denominators between your taste and hers that you can draw on.
Even if you never change your mind about what you like and what you don’t like, your spouse will appreciate the fact that you were motivated enough to want to better understand your world.
3. Do everything you can to show that you care and appreciate your spouse. Most spouses take their partner for granted in many ways and stop expressing appreciation and saying “Thank you.”
Make an effort to notice the big and small things your partner does that you appreciate. Say a verbal “Thank You” or buy a special card and express your feelings in writing. Sincere thanks can help the report.
4. When you talk with your spouse, try to match your breathing and speech rhythms with his (or hers). It is more difficult to establish a good relationship when your spouse is relaxed and relaxed at the moment and you are agitated and upset.
Without being obvious and making it look like you’re mimicking your partner, slow down and adjust your breathing rate to more closely match your partner’s. Align your speaking speed to match his and try to sync up with your energy right now.
You can also try sitting or standing in the same position as your spouse, without making it obvious that you are copying their behavior. In addition, you can align your facial expression and gestures with his.
Many good communicators do these things unconsciously because they help create a report and offer a good starting point for better communication. The key to doing this successfully is to start where your spouse is right now in terms of energy level and emotions.
5. Slowly encourage your partner to expand their world. For example, after listening to your spouse’s description of what happened at work, if they don’t ask about their day, summarize what happened in two or three short sentences before ending the conversation.
If your spouse spends every night in front of the television, ask her (or him) to select five minutes in which the television can be turned off and you can take a “snuggle break.” Start small and build up to longer periods of time.
Offer to give your spouse a foot, shoulder, or back massage. Really immerse yourself in the experience as you ease the worries of your partner’s day with your healing touch. Let your partner know how much you enjoy being able to do this for her (or him) and see if they offer to reciprocate, either now or later.
You will be more likely to be able to establish a good relationship if your partner feels that you are genuinely interested in what is happening to you, that you appreciate it, that you care about it, that it values you, and that you want to spend time with it.
If what you are doing is not working, remember the story of the dancing cow and change the “tune” you are playing. Rather than trying to start where you want things to be, start in your partner’s frame of reference and slowly move in the direction you want to eventually go.