By Gary Smalley
Persistence means continuing to pursue a goal until it is achieved.
For years, Ken's way of dealing with Carla's hurt feelings was to give her a lecture on or a rational explanation for why she was hurting and how she could stop. These ranged in length from the brief "you're to sensitive" all the way to the twenty-minute complex analysis of her entire situation. Carla always assumed it was just his way of trying to tell her he was superior by making her feel at fault. If someone didn't talk to her at a party and she deduced they didn't like her anymore, Ken would simply tell her, "Oh, they were just too busy...you're just taking it too seriously." If she had an argument with his mother, his mother got his understanding while Carla got comments like, "You overreacted," or "I can't believe how you hurt mom's feelings."
After Carla realized that men have to learn how to respond to women's feelings, she began to tell Ken each time she needed comfort, "Don't lecture me...just hold me and understand." This didn't do a bit of good the first six or seven times she tried it. She still got his lectures (although they kept getting shorter). Finalley Ken (genius that he is), realized that Carla was simply asking him not to preach at her but to comfort her with silent gentleness. He tried it once and noticed a completely different responce in Carla. She recovered from her hurt feelings much faster than when he tried to explain away her feelings. Ken told me that although it was hard not to lecture the first few times, his quiet response was so much more effective that it has now become natural. If Carla had tried to help him change by sharing her feelings only once, nothing would have happened. But she persisted, and now both she and Ken are enjoying the benefits of her persistence.
Several years ago I met a man who had been very successful in his work with teenagers. He had influenced thousands of young people in a positive way. When I asked him the secret of his success, I was surprised by his answer. He said, "It's simple. For every 200 ideas I try, one works!" One of the teenagers from his youth group, Jill, followed his example after she married. Since the first week of their marriage, Jill had noticed how Dave always showed preference for his family over hers. When they moved across the country Dave to attend graduate school, she thought she would be free to rating second to his family. Unfortunately, 2,000 miles wasn't far enough. Phone calls, letters, or visits with the family continued to add fuel to the fire. Whenever Jill found fault with any of Dave's family, Dave would always rise to their defense. Time after time she would try to tell Dave how deeply it bothered her that he preferred his family over her, but Dave always defended himself.
A few years after gradute school, Dave finally had the chance to relocate near their hometown. He thought Jill would be thrilled because it mean living near her family too. He couldn't understand why she cried when he told her about the opportunity. Once again she explained that she was afraid to live near his family because of his preference for them. As usual, he defended himself and couldn't see it from her viewpoint.
On vacation they visited their hometown. As they were leaving his family, he asked her, "Tell me one more time why you don't want to move back?" She explained once more, and it finally got through. Since then, he has had many opportunities to demonstrate his preference for Jill. She now feels so secure that she is looking forward to the possibility of returning home. Once again, the wife's gentle persistence brought lasting benefit to her and her husband.
© Copyright 2003 Smalley Relationship Center