Zack Vayda and the Armchair Expert: Part 2
Here is yet another useful lesson I got from the podcast called the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepherd.
During the interview, Dax informed the listeners of Kristen Bell (his wife) and of her selfless, intentional giving. He remarked on her ability to understand the nuances that suggest when and how love is shown.
Dax used the example of the many times the two of them would be relaxing on the couch. Kristen would ask Dax if he needed anything. He knew she was being thoughtful towards him, but in his mind, if he needed something he would've gotten it himself, saving her the trouble. Dax mentioned about a specific time where Kristen asked him if he could get her a glass of water from the kitchen. Dax saw this as needy. He wouldn't ask her to get something from the kitchen for him, so why would she request that of him when she has two perfectly good feet? Her asking for this shows that she doesn't value what he's working on or doing currently. She's putting her needs before his.
Dax's mindset is similar to mine. I grew up in a household that highly valued independence. I would be showing a sort of love to the rest of my family by being able to take care of myself fully instead of burdening others with my problems. There is certainly value to this view; if I can find my own shoes as opposed to asking my mom where they are, she would certainly appreciate it. I've seen this mindset permeate many of my relationships. I can think of several times where my girlfriend would ask me to get something for her and I would resist this, for the reasons mentioned earlier. I would also be afraid I would be setting up a pattern for the future, a pattern that would require me to get her what she was asking for from now until the end of time.
Kristen saw this exchange differently.
Kristen explained her point of view. When she would ask Dax if he needed anything from the kitchen, she was giving herself the opportunity to show Dax love. Similarly, when she asked Dax to get something for her, she was giving him the opportunity to show her love. To take that even further, she was showing him a level of vulnerability and reliability necessary in a balanced relationship. Kristen was trying to create a safe space in their relationship where, based off the knowledge that there's a foundation of mutual love and respect, Dax could get her water, show his devotion to her, and not have to worry about any underlying motives.
This was eye-opening for me. I now see that when my girlfriend asks me to do something for her, it's not that she doesn't value what I'm working on, she's not try to create a pattern where I always do everything for her, she's simply trying to create a deeper connection of sacrifice and healthy dependency between the two of us. She's not being selfish or lazy, she's asking me out of love.
This is a wonderful example that shows just how important clear communication is in a relationship. If I never talked to my girlfriend about this, she would always assume I didn't care about her enough to fulfill her request, and I would simultaneously assume she wanted her needs met above and before mine. Now that we've both listened to the podcast and discussed it, we understand the true, selfless motive for when this happens again.
Next time she asks for water from the kitchen, I'll know she's saying, "I care about you and I depend on you."