Have you asked someone today “How are you?” or “Are you ok?”
And did they respond with “Good thanks” or “fine”? I bet you have, and I bet they did. And generally, we just leave it at that.
It kind of just rolls off our tongue without us actually thinking about what we are asking? It’s really a greeting, not a question.
But if you ask your wife (or husband) that question and she responds with “fine” (especially if it’s said with an attitude) can I suggest that you don’t just leave it at that – that you do in fact dig a little deeper.
Once upon a time
Once upon a time, this was a classic line for me. I would get upset with Andy and yet pretend that everything was ‘fine’.
It wasn’t and I wasn’t, and looking back now I wonder why I ever wasted so much emotional energy pretending that everything was ok. I was young, naïve and not very good at understanding or expressing my emotions. I also felt that if Andy needed to ask me if I was ok then he should know that I wasn’t. Surely if he loved me he would know what I was feeling! Oh, the crazy things we tell ourselves! I had to learn that Andy wasn’t a mind reader, that I was having unrealistic expectations of him, and that it was my responsibility to tell him how I was feeling.
Acronym for ‘fine’ – Feelings Inside Not Expressed
That acronym has been good for me to remember. When I’ve found myself saying ‘fine’ when I’m really not, it’s been a prompt for me to ask myself some good questions. Nikki, are you being authentic? What are you really feeling? Why are you feeling this way? What has triggered these feelings? How can you communicate these feelings in a constructive respectful way?
Our feelings are our responsibility
And while our feelings (and communicating them) are our responsibility, it helps if our partner has the courage to enter our ‘feeling’ zone and ask us some probing questions to draw us out. Dismissing feelings never goes well. Most of us just want someone to care enough to listen, to really listen to our feelings; we don’t want our feelings fixed, just validated.
Being truly heard has the ability to take us from ‘fine’ to ‘felt’ – and when we ‘feel felt’ we truly do feel “Good, thanks”.