A friend of mine sent me that picture. She knows me. She understands how hard I’ve worked at “taking the highroad.” But really, it’s much more than that. I know that I’m a reactor and I’m also a verbal processor. That means I speak as I think instead of thinking before I speak. Being both a reactor and a verbal processor can be a lethal combination. There is an old proverb that says, “Even a fool when he is silent is considered wise.” That verse has come to mind often, usually after I regretted something I’ve said. I have seldom regretted keeping my mouth shut but have often regretted speaking before thinking. So when things get touchy and potentially explosive, I need help. That usually means I need to process outside of the situation. I need a sounding board, a confidant. I think most of us need someone who can listen objectively, not shame us and help us gain perspective.
We pay lots of money to hire “professional confidants” when we visit a counselor. Well, at least I have. I’ve often wondered how much money we could save if we were better at choosing our confidants. My husband can play the role of confidant sometimes. But he has his limits. I remember one day when I began to unleash all of my pent up frustrations on him. He listened as I spoke. I jumped from topic to topic. He remained patient until I entered an area that was a bit too touchy. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know he turned to me and said, “Honey, there is a reason you have women friends. This is an issue you need to talk through with one of them.” That was good advice. In-law relationships might be one of those issues you want to discuss with your BFF confidant. You know how the rules go when it comes to our own families. I can rag on my own family but I become quickly defensive if someone else picks on them. This doesn’t mean that you never talk to your husband about the family, but sometimes it’s better to talk with a friend. When you do talk to your husband about his family, be very clear to make sure he understands not to repeat your conversation. I am so thankful that my husband didn’t tell his family about my frustrations. Although I realize there are occasions when he did need to say something, in general I am glad he kept his mouth shut.
Observation: There is a huge difference between confiding in a trusting friend and trashing your in-laws or family to others. I can let loose with my confidant knowing she will not repeat what I said, judge me or encourage bitterness. She will understand, sympathize and sometimes give great advice.
Reflection: I now understand the difference between stuffing my emotions and emotional correctness. What’s that? Check out my next blog. “Emotional Correctness”