During the week of June 16, 2013, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding that devastated communities across southern Alberta. Out of the destruction, displacement and loss came an interesting thing…Community.
Where the Heck Am “I”?
What really stood out for Donna and me in the days and weeks following the flood was the extraordinary response by “ordinary” people to support those who needed assistance. It was a scene replayed across southern Alberta… Calgary, Canmore, High River, Medicine Hat and elsewhere.
On the Monday following the flooding, the Red Cross put out a call for 600 volunteers to help with clean-up efforts in Calgary. The call was issued with 2 hours notice – 2,500 people came out (puts a lump in my throat). People showed up with fans, water pumps and shovels to help in whatever way they could, wherever they were needed. Messages went up on Facebook asking if anyone knew of communities that needed help. Calgarians organized groups of volunteers to make the 1-hour drive to help family, friends and strangers in the community of High River, the town most seriously impacted by the floods.
The needs of others overshadowed the problems, routines, and events in people’s own lives. People were moved to shift their focus away from themselves. “Community” showed up. “Me and them” became “Us”. “I” became “We” (another lump).
What is your typical “disaster response”?
What do the Alberta floods have to do with your relationship? Donna and I talked about this the other day while taking a Canada Day drive out to Canmore.
Something we noticed is that whereas the flood disaster brought communities together, “disasters” in relationships often, though not always, pull couples apart.
There’s a lot of potential relationship disasters that could show up – financial problems, health challenges, affairs, busy lifestyles, the death of a child, competing career interests, to name just a few.
When “disasters” show up in the community that is your relationship, how do your community members (i.e., you and your partner) respond? Do you insist on handling them yourself or do you tackle them together? Do you empathise with your partner but stop before making the difference for them? Are you one half of two “I’s”, or is your partnership a “We”?
Whatever your response, its perfect. I’ve often taken the lone wolf route, and I’ve responded as an “I” more often than I care to remember. Donna and I have also responded to challenges as a team. As a result, what I know is that men and women are more powerful together than they are apart (and yes, you can be “apart” even though you live under the same roof). That power comes from the complementary nature of the very real differences between men and women. Each gender’s strengths complement one another, causing the “parts” to come together as a much stronger whole. There is perfection in the natural design of who each of us are. Form meets function.
Give This a Try
On our way to Canmore, Donna had a good idea for our relationship, one I’m going to recommend you try. She simply suggested that, as often as possible, we refer to us in relationship as “we” or “us” rather than “I” or “him” or “her” or “you”. The idea was to focus on “us” as a single unit rather than being made up of two separate parts. The distinction might be fuzzy, and its powerful. When you think like a “we”, you will become a “we” and you will start approaching life as a “we”. You will feel and be connected. Your new focus will start to show up in life. It has to. Its a law of nature.
Whether you choose to take this on or not, we would love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below with your thoughts, experiences and insights.
If you want to find out exactly how the differences between men and women complement each other to create a powerful partnership for what you’re up to in life, consider joining us for an upcoming “Between Men and Women: Mastering the Bond” small group or private retreat. Click below for upcoming dates and details:
YOU Don’t Change…Your COMMUNICATION Does!
Thanks for being you. Make it a great day.