It’s a Given

It’s a Given

You know what it’s like to have a big, important conversation with someone you love but the conversation is one in which there is a lot of fear in the air. What if they get mad? What if they leave? What if they tell all my friends? What if this causes them to give up on me? This is a list I could make for pages as I hear these fears expressed in my office nearly every hour of nearly every day.

As I listen to these stories, I have been hearing in my own head and then recently stating out loud this other question. What are the givens in this relationship? You know what I mean by the givens, right? The givens are the things that are, well, given. The problem with givens is that not everyone is as secure in my givens as I am. I may know that I will never abandon a loved one or friend no matter what, but in their scariest moment, do they know it? That is why I am presently on a campaign to get couples, families, friends, or whatever the relationship is to state the givens out loud. That is, if something important is absolutely true for you, say it even if you assume it’s a known.

Now you might say something like, “Of course my wife knows I would not divorce her over something like this. I might get really mad, but I have no intention of going anywhere.” Well, that’s great but as you look in your wife’s eyes, are you sure you see that certainty there? If not, state the given. Say something like, “I need to tell you something so we can have this conversation and make some headway with it. I need you to know that no matter what, I love you like crazy and I have no intention of going anywhere but right here with you.” She may say, “I know that” but she may also be very relieved.

There are many places the givens are important. Make sure your kids know that even when they do something disappointing, they are still valued by you absolutely. Make sure your elderly parents hear that the tough decision you may have to make on their behalf is rooted in a deep care and appreciation for them. Make sure your friends know that when they are struggling, they don’t have to worry about being overbearing or sharing too much with you. Further, make sure they know that you will never talk to anyone else about their story without their permission. Make sure your spouse knows that even when it seems otherwise, he or she is the most important person in the world to you.

Say this with me. “The people that I hold dear will never have to guess at how I feel or what’s true. Telling them is a given!”