An elderly man had grown increasingly worried that his wife was losing her hearing. One night, to test it out, he stood behind the sofa and said, “Darling, can you hear me?”
There was no response.
So he crept a bit closer and asked her again, “Darling, can you hear me?”
Still no response. Very worried now, he moved up right next to her ear and said again in a loud voice, “Darling, can you hear me?!”
At which point she turned around and shouted “For the third time Henry, yes I can hear you!”
Like many jokes, this one hides a kernel of truth. Like Henry, we often believe we have a clear picture of what’s going on in our lives, except for one flaw – we forget to factor ourselves into the equation. Indeed, when talking about relationships and communication, many of us have been to enough talks on these subjects that we figure we could deliver an abridged version ourselves. So why bother going to another one? Yet like the plot twist in the joke, the answer to that question may seem obvious upon reflection – have we really applied what we’ve learned to our own lives?
I went to a conference six months ago, and one of the speakers recounted his conversion story from many years before. For a year after his conversion, he felt the Holy Spirit in a tangible way every single day. He felt righteous; he felt inspired; he felt holy. In fact, he admitted to us, at that electrifying part of his faith life, he couldn’t imagine how he couldn’t be a saint right then and there, and he genuinely wondered what everyone else was doing wrong. He went to see his spiritual advisor, and after telling him all the wonderful things he had been experiencing, the priest asked him “Well in that case, how have you been treating your wife? Your children? Your neighbor on the street?” And without a drop of irony he resopnded “Father, what does that have to do with anything?”
Like this well-intentioned speaker, we can all fall victim to ‘holiness by osmosis’ – I understand the ideas, I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded folks, and I certainly feel great about where I’m at. Yet if a quick examination of our relationships – and in particular, how well we relate to others – lends a less than perfect picture, it may be a good time to re-approach communication with open ears, with a mind toward adopting what we learn.
With that in mind, the Office for Family Life and the Alpha Omega clinic is once again offering its annual relationship series, this time as a three part workshop focused on communication skills. Led by licensed social worker Carolyn Hansen, the workshop is open to all adults 21 and over, including married couples, engaged couples, dating and singles. The workshop will be held at St. Agnes parish hall in Arlington from 6 – 9 pm on consecutive Wednesdays—November 2nd, 9th, and 16th. A wine and cheese reception will precede each presentation, and a $10 donation is suggested per person per night (or $25 for the series).