The Turtle and the Hailstorm
Crystal Kotow-Sullivan …
I am sure that John has spoken or written about the turtle and the hailstorm! This is a wonderful image for us. I am the hailstorm and John is the turtle.
Our exercise this week is on Truth #2 Incompatibility is Grounds for Marriage.
Well the turtle and the hailstorm are incompatible. I am the one who wants to sort it out right now … let’s talk this through. John would like some time to process what is happening, so when I come in strong, demanding we sort it out now … because of course this can’t wait … he will go into his shell.
Just think of this image. What does a turtle do when a small pebble hits its shell? It retracts into the shell. So John would not engage in the conversation, he would hide in his shell. I would then become more demanding and he would go deeper into his shell … not a great way to communicate.
When I learned to ask for a conversation rather than demand a conversation, John started to be present. When I paid attention to what he needed, he started to leave his shell. I am less of a hailstorm and he came out of hiding.
It is not safe for a turtle to be in a hailstorm. So I learned how to create a safe space for John to enter the conversation.
Conversely, as John came out of his shell, I learned that I could trust that he would be there for the conversation and I was not so afraid that it would not happen.
Now, I am able to trust that he will be present, in a safe space for the two of us to have the conversations that we need and want to have to deepen our relationship.
John Sullivan …
There are two basic ways couples are incompatible:
- how they relate to structure versus freedom
- how they handle stress and conflict.
Rather than see this as a negative, is it possible to reframe it and see it in a more positive light? If two people are exactly the same, where is the growth? Crystal and I are alike in some ways, but in others we are polar opposites. as we become more aware we can both see the opportunities for each of us to grow.
I tend to be the pleaser; she is more independent. In our reactive relationship I would sometimes move toward her and her response would be to move away. She would interpret my trying to please her as a threat to her independence. In my head I would think, why can’t she just come toward me? An ah-ha moment for me was to understand, why can’t I just back off a bit. I realized it was just as hard for her to move toward me as it was for me to back off.
Once I did that though, it gave her space to turn around and now we meet more in the middle. I guess the basic realization in any relationship is that your partner is not you. It doesn’t make one right and the other wrong, but you are both quite different. Both bring talent to the party.
A coaching analogy would in in hockey for example; I don’t expect or even want my high scoring forward to have the same qualities as my stay at home goalie. They both have quite different, but very useful skill sets. The key is that they are on the same team.
In our relationship, both Crystal and I bring different qualities and strengths to the table. As well, over time, we each have learned from the other and expanded our skill sets and in so doing have both grown to be more whole, more the person we were created to be. The exciting thing is we are on the same team!!