When we have a group of friends over at the house, out comes the ping pong table or the air hockey. A few good hours of macho fun and celebratory remarks all leads to a lot of laughing and bonding.
Do you play ping pong with your wife? (or husband!) I mean, ping pong without the table. Rather, in your relationship. Here, let me give you an example:
Husband: "Oh man, I had such a bad day at work today!"
Wife: "Oh yeah, me too! The kids were just awful all day. I am exhausted!"
Wife: "I really feel frustrated when I see clothes all over the floor"
Husband: "I know what you mean, you leave your dishes all over the living room"
Ping-ponging, as I like to call it, is when emotions are shared from one partner to the other, followed by the other partner immediately sharing their emotions right back. This can often go back and forth, just like playing ping-pong, where each person keeps taking a stab at the ball (or the emotion) without either of them "leaning in" and feeling their partners emotions.
I think many of these ping-pong effects occur when one brings up an issue and the other person immediately becomes defensive. This then causes individuals to feel unheard, disrespected and discredited.
Effective communication stiplulates that when one person is expressing, the other person needs to be listening, not planning a response. This is hard to do, especially if you disagree. That moment when your partner is expressing their feelings is not the time for you to agree or disagree. Quite frankly, your opinion at that very moment doesn't really matter. It's about listening and "leaning in emotionally" to your partner. Try to feel what they feel.
Leave the ping-ponging to the table and avoid using this in your marriage!
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