Most of us know this question as the desperate conversation opener our parents tried on us when they picked us up from school; as in:
“How was your day, Billy?” said Mother as she surreptitiously checked in the rear view mirror for some clue of emotion.
“Fine,” said Billy, rolling his eyes and plugging into his iPod.
Nonetheless, I believe the question to be an important one, especially between life partners, and deserving of a serious, well considered reply.
A few posts ago, I wrote about the necessity of having an accurate map of the inside of your partner’s mind. I meant it. It’s a necessity. All too often we rely on what we learned about him or her when we were first dating. Well, he might have been trying to impress you then. She may not know the things she knows now. He might have changed his mind.
If google maps came out with a new version, you’d download it, right? You’d like to know that the bridge is out lest you end up in the drink; you need to find your friend who just moved to a new street. The same thing goes with your map of the inside of your partner’s mind. Ask her how her day was. You might be surprised at what you hear.
There are lots of ways of downloading a map of the inside of your partner’s mind. You could ask him what his values, worries, and expectations are and maybe he would have them sorted out enough to tell you. What’s better is to see it in action in the way he treats his secretary, how he talks about his coworkers, and what he does with his boss’s demands.
In order to work best, the question might have to be re-worded. How was your day? may invite one word responses. Tell me about your day is more open-ended, but you may have to be prepared to listen for a while. Tell me about the best and the worse part of your day, strikes a balance.
Ask at a sensible time, like when you would be likely to listen. Asking it at the breakfast table is just weird; the day hasn’t started, yet. Asking in bed at night, when you’re about to drop off doesn’t go well. Asking when the kids are hanging on her gives you a curt response. Asking when friends or family are around gives you the PR version.
Take turns. It’s as important for your partner to download a new version of the map of your mind as it was for you.
How was your day? Ask, listen, and tell. Repeating on a regular basis might, just might, be the most important thing you do to keep you together.