This morning Ted told me to make him a sandwich. A communication sandwich, to be exact.
If you’ve read my new book, Team Us, you already know what that is. If you haven’t, it’s a great communication technique. It simply means that when you have criticism to share with your spouse — or anyone, for that matter — you sandwich it between praise. Much like you’d layer sourdough, ham, sourdough in an actual, mouth-watering sandwich, you layer praise, criticism, praise in this communication one.
You’d think that at this point in our marriage, Ted wouldn’t have to remind me to serve him a sandwich. After all, I’ve written about this technique a number of times. But he did.
Here’s what happened.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been seeing a chiropractor. All thanks to some persistent neck pain I’ve been experiencing. Today I had my fourth appointment. Instead of leaving me to take all four of our girls with me, on my own, while I received an adjustment, Ted offered to come too on his way to work. Without me even having to ask.
Good man, right?
The only problem was, Ted has a way of winding up our girls. Which, honestly, isn’t a bad thing necessarily … well, except maybe when you’re supposed to be sitting quietly in a chiropractor’s office.
As we left, I made this comment to Ted: “I had a hard time hearing my chiropractor’s instructions over the girls’ noise. It was distracting.”
Talk about indirect.
We kissed goodbye. Ted walked to his car. Me and the girls to our van. A minute later, I noticed that he wasn’t in his car, driving off, but instead was coming back toward me.
“So what I hear you saying,” came Ted’s words, “is that you’d like me to keep the girls quieter next time?”
“I should have just been direct, huh?” I asked. “It’s hard because I really appreciated you coming to watch the girls, so I didn’t want you to feel like I was criticizing you.”
Ted smiled and responded, “Well, that’s when you make me a sandwich.”
Why, yes. Yes, it is.
So if you and your spouse are struggling to be direct with one another today, just like me with Ted, I encourage you too to take the time to serve up a sandwich. A communication sandwich, to be exact.