My wife and I had occasion to meet a new friend. Bud is in his eighties, has been married over 50 years, strong as a horse, sharp as a tack, and funny as all get out.
Bud is a soft spoken man, exuding kindness, and a sort of wisdom that draws you in. He recalled the following story, sharing with Cindy and me that recently his neighbor Jim, was convinced that Bud was having marital problems. Bud stated that he was confused why Jim expressed his concern about how Bud was doing given the shaky marriage he apparently was in.
So, Bud asked Jim why he thought he had marital problems. “Well Bud, it is the way your wife yells at you, it seems pretty constant”. Bud replied, “Yells at me? What are you talking about?” Jim reluctantly mimicked an abrasive,demanding, staccato rhythm of ‘BUD! BUD! BUD!’ She sounds really upset with you”.’
Bud smiled and said, “I see. Well actually, that isn’t my wife you hear, it’s Sweetie, my parrot”. Bud reported that Jim looked incredulous, paused to see if Bud was serious, and when he saw that Bud wasn’t kidding, both men laughed.
This true story points out that Jim was quite the Gottman researcher and could predict Bud’s marital happiness based on what appeared to be abrasive demands, that apparently Bud wasn’t responding to.
Next time you get angry at your partner, think about Sweetie, and whether you want to parrot the parrot, or whether you might be able to take a breath, state what’s happening and how you feel about it, and what you want. You can squawk, or you can talk. I guess we all need to squawk every once in a while, and hey, nobody is perfect. However, I could argue that constant squawking is for the birds.