Devotion to the Author
The following is a fictional dialogue between an engaged couple, Bill & Ashley following a distressing email:
I have a lot on my mind lately and I really feel like I need to talk to you about it. The property manager of the venue called today and she said that there are complications with our reservation. I spoke with my mom today and I’m not sure if my brother is going to be able to be in town that weekend. For that matter, over half of our anticipated RSVP’s have not come in. Also, due to the season I am concerned about an incoming hurricane. I’m starting to rethink the flavor and design of the cake and would like to look at some more samples but there isn’t enough time for that. Most of all, I feel like you are not near as concerned with these preparations as I am. I am beginning to feel really uneasy about this wedding.
(10 minutes later)
Bill: Ashley, I got your email. What is going on? Why don’t you want to get married?
Ashley: What are you talking about? I never said that. Did you read my email?
Bill: Yes, you said, “I am beginning to feel really uneasy about this wedding.”
Ashley: Ok. Did you read the whole email?
Bill: Well no, but that sentence pretty much says it all.
Ashley: Actually it doesn’t. The whole message says it all. So you should go back and read the whole email before you draw any conclusions.
Bill: Why don’t you just tell me what you were trying to communicate?
Ashley: No Bill I will not do that. I took the time to write you an email, and I expect you to take the time to read it and understand what I mean. You have a tendency to do this and honestly, I feel that your lack of attention to what I am trying to say is an indication of your lack of attention to me. You need to show me that you care.
(1 hour later)
Bill: Ok Ashley I read the email, and I put a lot of reflection into this situation. You said that you spoke with your mom today. I know how she feels about me and I can’t help but to think that she has been putting doubts in your mind about this marriage. I think that is what motivated your email.
Ashley: The message that I sent you said nothing about that. Mom and I were discussing who was going to be at the wedding.
Bill: Yeah I know that is what you wrote, but based on previous interactions that I have had with her, I know that she doesn’t like me very much and it is reasonable to assume that she has been causing you this distress.
Ashley: Even if you have caught a bad vibe from her in the past, my email said nothing about her feelings towards you. Therefore, your assumption is not a reasonable one at all. Furthermore, you still have not commented on anything that I actually wrote about.
Bill: I am just trying to get an understanding of the situation.
Ashley: You are only gathering an understanding of projections of your own mind. You are more concerned with yourself than you are with me.
Bill: I can’t believe that you really think that.
Ashley: How could I not think that? Until you take the time to read what I wrote and provide me some feedback on what I ACTUALLY WROTE, I find it hard to believe that you really care about me.
Bill: Fine, I am going to read it again and really try to understand everything that you were trying to communicate.
Ashley: Well I hope you think about me while you’re reading it, but don’t think too hard.
(2 hours later)
Bill: Ashley, I have been thinking long and hard about your email and this is what I have come up with. You said that you had a lot on your mind so it is necessary for me to get inside of your mind to really understand everything that is there. First, your frustrations with the property manager are an indication that you have some control issues. Your interaction with your mom about your brother reveals that you are uneasy about moving away from your family. The lack of RSVP’s represents your hesitation with commitment, and the hurricane represents the inner turmoil you have about this relationship. Finally, the reason that you want to look at some more cakes is because you do not think you have dated around enough before deciding to settle down.
Ashley: Are you serious right now? Who actually interprets this way? I don’t even know how to respond to what you’ve said.
Bill: I am just trying to understand your thought process.
Ashley: If you want to understand my thought process, then read what I wrote and understand that! If you would just devote a little attention to me and my thoughts, AS THEY ARE EXPRESSED ON THE PAGE, you would have some understanding. Ultimately, this isn’t about you understanding my email. This is about you trying to understand me, and even if you failed to understand, all that really matters to me is that you care enough to try. Until you do that, I don’t want to talk anymore.
(24 hours later)
Bill: Ok Ashley, I am ready to really talk about your email. First, I am sorry that I have been so careless with you and your thoughts. You were right. I have not demonstrated any real devotions towards you.
Ashley: Thank you for realizing that. What have you come up with?
Bill: Well, I now understand that you are concerned about the wedding plans. I also called your mother to inquire about your conversation with her and she assured me that it had nothing to do with me. After really listening to her I don’t think that she dislikes me after all. Finally, the way that I have handled this interaction is an indication of how I have not been concerned about what you think and how you feel. If I am really going to enter into covenant with you, I must care more about those things.
Ashley: Wow! That is exactly what I wanted to hear from you. You took the time to understand me and that is all that I really wanted. Thank you.
Bill: You know what? It really wasn’t even that hard to figure out what you meant. So let’s talk about these wedding plans.