How do you shift gears from work to home?
I wrote a great article recently about the importance of transition time , and I want to add a layer to that;
The Daily Download.
There is a really important place in the day when you come together with your partner to share the highlights, the challenges, and the events of this day in your life.
It is also a source of great frustration, conflict, and disappointment when it isn’t done well.
There are 3 parts to The Daily Download;
WHAT IS A DOWNLOAD?
You know that feeling when you’ve had a terrible day and you just want to vent, and get it off your chest? Or when you have had an amazing day and you can’t wait to celebrate? Or when your day has been the same day as you always have, but you just really want for you partner to care enough about you that they say something like “How was your day?”
That, my friends, is The Daily Download.
There is a very specific reason I call it a ‘download’. It’s because I think that there are times when it needs to be transmitted as a packet of information that is downloaded then filed away. Like, don’t dwell on a shit day. Download, then hit the reset button and move on.
STEP 1: BEING HEARD
Many of my clients find the daily download frustrating.
To be fair, you may have heard this exact same download ten thousand times. It can feel like groundhog day, and you wish your partner would solve their goddamn recurring problem FFS! So you offer solutions that seem obvious to you, and then feel unappreciated and cranky when they aren’t received well.
Classic download fail!
The purpose of this step is for your partner to feel heard. So, take a breath, and say to yourself “This matters. I am switching into listening mode”. Because if you don’t have the capacity or desire to give your partner this space, that makes you an actual asshole. Truth.
In my house we swing between wanting to share, and wanting to move on. Sometimes one or both of us just want to forget about a shitty day, or just don’t feel like chatting about it. We start by saying “How was your day? Do you want to talk about it, or let it go? “
If your partner would like to share, then make yourself comfortable and listen to them. You can ask questions to help you understand, and say things that show you have empathy. This is a skill I encourage you to develop! Don’t make it about you. Never change the subject. Stop being an asshole.
STEP 2: BEING SUPPORTED
Here’s where a lot of people run into trouble. They start trying to problem solve, they get caught up in the drama, or they just plain don’t know how to respond so they fuck it up.
Stop doing that, and do this instead; ask “What would support look like”
I learned this question from Brené Brown’s latest book Dare to Lead, and it has become my go-to phrase in my personal life, and as a great tool for my clients.
When you ask your partner what support would look like, they can give you feedback on what they want from you right now. Here are some examples of support;
- I need to get it off my chest, can I vent for ten minutes? I just need you to listen.
- I’m really overwhelmed, would you take care of dinner?
- I feel bummed. I’d really love a hug.
- I’d love your insight, what would you do in this situation?
- I want to change this, can we do some problem solving on the weekend?
STEP 3: TROUBLE SHOOTING
Never start with problem solving.
Firstly, how incredibly arrogant to think that you, who don’t have all of the information nor lived experience, have the solution to what you think is the problem. Don’t do it.
Secondly, when you or your partner are in a state of heightened emotion or immediacy, you don’t have access to your cognitive processes (or at any rate it’s limited) and so your problem solving capacity is limited.
Thirdly, unless you have had an explicit invitation to offer advice or suggestions. don’t.
I recommend that you decide on a time that works for you both to do some brainstorming and problem solving, then put it in your calendar. You could do it at your weekly State of the Nation, or make another separate time. Keep it to 45 minutes max, you may need to have more than one session on it.
I love strategising with couples on how to do this in a way that works in their unique circumstances, it makes a huge difference to your understanding of your partner, and your feeling of support & connection.