I was actually going to write on something else, then I found an article in Psychology Today that really struck a chord. The article was written by Dr. James V. Cordova called Exchanging Ows. It is about how, in an intimate relationship with someone, we will do something or say something that causes our partner pain, and we feel that pain as well. This is because when we enter into this type of relationship, we must be kind, gentle and show care for the other person. But what does this look like?
Dr. Cordova did a fine job of explaining this idea of the exchange of “Ows,” He goes on to show how to go about keeping vulnerability and intimacy alive in a relationship. However, I know what he is talking about.
My wife and I have been married for 34 years. Do we have it all dialed in – no, however, a relationship is more about the journey then the destination. I will admit that the road I have led my wife down has not been the smoothest. There have been potholes the size of the Grand Canyon, It has had some sharp uphill climbs, some death defying downhill slides, twists and turns, and sometimes covered in briars. Still my wife has traveled that road.
I am not the easiest person to be with. To further illustrate my point. A pastor we had, when we were living in Arizona, said to my wife, “You are a blessed woman, you are storing up your treasures in heaven.” and he gave her a hug. Then he looked at me, “You’ll be penniless.”
Have I exchanged “Ows” with my wife – yes on many occasions, and to be perfectly fair, I have received “Ows” from her as well. According to Dr. Cordova, the “Ows” we give, we should feel wounded ourselves – this is part of the vulnerability that we need to have in an intimate relationship. We need to realize that we have hurt the ones we love, and at that point we should stop, recognize that we did wrong and humbly apologize – ergo, the kindness and gentleness.
What if we don’t realize what we did hurt. Maybe it was a joke, it might have been funny to me, but my wife might have taken offence to it. When she tells me about it, and how that joke made her feel, I need to go to her and apologize for the hurt feelings. Then I need to ask her to explain how it hurt, so I don’t make that mistake in the future.
There are two important skills that any successful marriage needs to have – as a matter of fact – any successful intimate relationship. The skills are communication and humility – if you don’t have those two skills, no amount of flowers, candy or jewelry will make your relationship successful .
Let’s face it, we are all human, and as humans we are fallible. I think I fail more than any person alive, it is by the grace of God and the mercy of my wife that I don’t find myself sleeping on the streets. So be kind to your partner, you have chosen each other and you need to make sure that you treat each other right. After reading Dr. Cordova, I will be working harder too.