Background Shadow

What Can Veterans Day Teach Us About Relationships?

Veterans Day traces its origin to the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.  At this hour, the Allies and Germany agreed to a cease fire on the Western Front.  Although some fighting continued in other areas, it became the date that  the “war to end all wars” ended.  Celebrated as Armistice Day in many allied countries, after WWII, the holiday became known as Veterans Day in the US.   And at 11:00 am on Veterans Day, many people will observe two minutes of silence: one to remember soldiers we’ve lost, and one to remember those who remain.

We pay tribute to military personnel past and present on 11/11/xx because a huge conflict ended on 11/11/18.  Hostilities ceased when two warring parties agreed to stop fighting.  At a moment in time, intentions changed and a war ended…

How could a focus on intention change our relationships?

How often are we aware of our intentions in relationships?  Probably, not too many people wake up intending to behave badly to their loved ones.  But how many of us think about what kind of spouse, parent, child, friend, coworker, or student we intend to be?  Why is it we so easily drop the ball in our relationships? Perhaps our knee jerk responses are out of sync with our truest intentions.

That’s what Sally and Ben discovered on a recent evening out – when they discussed a lingering point of disagreement in a quaint romantic restaurant.  At home, each agrees that the discussion would have evolved into a heated, angry argument.  But in the restaurant, each was closer to behaving as they truly intend to be: loving, committed spouses who disagree.  Their date night communication reflected their deepest intentions, in the way their at-home communication had not.

I’m not suggesting that a focus on intention will completely fix our relationships.  But I think it will point us in a healthier direction.  My proposal is not about changing the other person.  Rather it’s about focusing on how we intend to respond within a relationship.  It’s about responding with our intention regardless of how the other person behaves.

Here’s my Veterans Day Proposal for Relationships:

  • Decide how you truly intend to be in  your role as ___________.
  • Decide how you intend for the other person to feel as you interact.   This is not about controlling the other person.  It’s about avoiding unintended consequences.
  • Respond consistent with the previous intentions – regardless of what the other person does.
  • Example: If I intend to be a loving, available parent, and I intend for my teens to feel connected to me, I am more likely to fully attend to them when they are seeking my presence.  I am less likely to treat them inattentively: I’ll stop what I’m doing if possible, and I won’t break bad if their attitude stinks.

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