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What do you notice when your partner forgets to clean the kitchen? Do you add it to the list of evidence that your partner is bad at doing the housework? Or do you get curious about your partner’s perspective on why they didn’t do the chore?

In this episode, you’ll hear about the power of noticing in your relationship. When you can notice without judgment, your relationship will undergo an enormous change.

  • We’ll talk about how it’s tempting to come up with good guy vs bad guy narratives in our relationships
  • You’ll hear how curiosity cultivates compassion
  • I’ll give you a habit that will challenge you to notice without judging



You notice what you know

Last week I told you the story about when I first got dogs. I noticed all the times I walked the dogs and all the times I fed the dogs, because that was what I knew.

What I noticed led me to some very judgmental conclusions: I’m a good doggie mama, and my husband is a lousy doggie dad.

What I didn’t notice was all the ways my husband interacted with the dogs. This is because we tend to over-estimate our contributions and underestimate our sweetheart’s contributions.

Do you find yourself gathering “evidence” that proves you’re right and your partner is wrong? Since we tend to notice what we know, that evidence may only come from your side of the story. The longer your story gets, the more judgments you have.

How does this impact your relationship? Resentment and alienation build up.


The power of noticing

When you allow yourself to simply notice the circumstances–without judgment–your relationship will get stronger. This is because criticism and judgment tear at the fabric of your relationship while curiosity–the result of noticing–is a bridge of understanding between you and your partner.

You can gently let go of your judgments when you presume good intent. When you presume your partner had good intentions, this presumption inspires you to get curious when things don’t turn out as you wish.

You’re able to wonder…what happened in my partner’s life that got in the way of cleaning the kitchen?

How can you notice the world you live in from your partner’s perspective as well as your own? How would your relationship change if you were able to notice the dirty kitchen from your partner’s perspective as well as your own?

Try this: 

To avoid conflict and foster connection, this week’s habit for your happily ever after is to notice a common conflict without leaping to judgment of who’s right and who’s wrong.

Notice your conflict with curiosity. How would your partner tell the same story differently? What does that conflict look like through your partner’s eyes?

Where can you extend compassion? How can you offer yourself compassion? You’re tired! 3 long days in a row! Of course the kitchen is neglected. How can you offer your partner compassion? What may have kept your partner from getting to the dishes?

Maybe you can put on some music and have a dance party together as you clean the kitchen together. Maybe you agree the dishes will need to wait until the weekend.

Notice beyond the “good vs bad” narrative

When we can only see our own experience, it’s much easier to find fault. “I’ve been so busy! I’ve left home before 7 and gotten home after 8 three days in a row. I haven’t had time to clean the kitchen…” Then we make a leap: “You should have cleaned the kitchen,” we say to our partner.

We say this because we imagine the life of our partner is free of conflict and full of rainbows. We’re sure they had tons of time and no responsibilities. We WANT a clean kitchen. A clean kitchen is GOOD. We see that our partner didn’t clean the kitchen and suddenly they are BAD.

But life is full of complexities. When you can notice the world through your partner’s eyes as easily as through your own, you naturally grow curious of the complexities that arise.

Date Night Discussion:

I invite you to have a discussion about your tendencies to leap to the good-guy-bad-guy narrative.

What is the conflict that is most likely to produce accusations of “I’m right/you’re wrong?”

How can you get curious about that conflict? What does that conflict look like from your partner’s point of view? How can you offer compassion to BOTH you AND your partner?

Get curious and notice your partner’s perspective

Sometimes it’s hard to see something from your partner’s point of view. It gets easier when you invite curiosity into your narrative of the situation.

You’re so tired from your long day, but maybe your partner is too. Maybe something happened at work that made your partner run out of energy as well.

When you’re able to get curious about those complexities, you grow compassion. Compassion cultivates connection in your relationship. Judgment fosters alienation. Judgment closes doors. Compassion opens arms.

You’ve noticed beyond your own story, and met your partner with compassion. Now you can figure out a solution to the dirty kitchen together.

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