Stop! Or I’ll…Dump Water On Your Head
A psychiatrist I was working with was recently talking to some families about the importance of following through with so-called “parenting-threats” you make to a child. As I listened in I thought how difficult it must be to consistently do that, especially if following through with the consequence adds an element of stress or difficulty to your situation. A quick interrogation of the Google machine turned up hundreds, if not thousands, of relevant blog posts and articles to confirm my suspicions that this was no easy feat.
Today I was considering that conversation and came to the conclusion that if anyone in my marriage would eventually have trouble with this, it would be my laid back and quiet husband, not me (because I’m so perfect and all). I’m the type of person who tends to be more over-bearing, outspoken and “in charge” (typically only in my own mind am I honestly in control of anything).
He’s the type of person that doesn’t say a whole lot. But, that means when he does decide to talk – you listen – because it’s either hilarious, important or absolutely ingenius (or occasionally borderline insane).
I remembered an incident from when we first started dating and realized my assessment of which of us was better at following through was apparently starkly inaccurate.
It was Spring of 2007, we’d known each other less than a year and were cooking dinner at his house one evening. I was in an ornery mood and doing something that I’m sure was purposefully annoying and painfully asinine in the name of flirting.
As I tapped and poked him in the ribs over and over, not unlike a four year old I watched in clinic trying to provoke a reaction out of his mother, Donnie said to me,
“If you do that again I will pour this entire bottle of water on your head.”
“There is no way he will do that. We’re in his kitchen and it would make a huge mess and it would probably make me mad. I’m his new girlfriend…nobody wants their new girlfriend mad. He totally wouldn’t do that.
So…I poked him again…right in the ribs. And…
He poured bottled water over my head…right there in the middle of his kitchen.
Right there in front of God and everyone (and by everyone I mean Aubrey, his Zambian roommate who ended up as the best man in our wedding) my boyfriend dumped 12 ounces of bottled water onto my freshly-straightened hair and stared at me with an I-warned-you-you-dummy look on his face as spring water some kid in the Andes meticulously bottled by hand (what, you mean your water doesn’t come hand-bottled from the mountains? weak sauce.) dripped down my previously dry t-shirt, rolled down my legs and splatted onto the tile floor of his rent-house.
As I stood, soaking wet, in a puddle in the middle of his kitchen I never thought that incident would come back to me in 6 years as an indicator of how trustworthy he is.
And, I can tell you one thing, now when he tells me…
“Stop or I’ll…”
It may seem silly or trivial, but it’s true – when people follow through on their word, even on things that are seemingly pointless (or even mean! like dumping water on your girlfriends freshly straightened hair), it builds trust.
Do you have trouble following through? Do you think this is an important aspect of gaining trust in relationships? Parents, how hard is it to consistently follow through with your kids?
Image: Paul | FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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I’m an Ob/Gyn resident (that means I went to medical school to become a doctor) and now I'm working like a crazy person to learn my trade before I'm on my own in the wild. Once upon a time I birthed a couple of babies of my own, they're friggin' adorable twin toddlers now. My life story through November 2010 can be viewed here. The events in the many years following can be summed up as wedding bells, books, exams, babies, and doctoring. I only started this blog in hopes of landing a role in a Lifetime movie so I could quit medicine and move to Hollywood, so if you wouldn't take medical advice from Angelina Jolie, you shouldn't take it from me. I may not even be a real person. In fact, I'm probably a spambot. Or possibly a 15 yo boy blogging from a dingy basement. If you're really interested you can read more about me here. If you have any questions or want to guest post contact me.