A friend just turned me on to an interpretation of Buddha’s notion of Right Speech. It’s a handy little three-point system that I think would work wonders in improving communication in general and saving marriages in particular. The three questions to ask before one opens one’s mouth are:
1) Is it timely?
2) Is it helpful?
3) Is it true?
Wow. I love this! How many of us have had scenarios like the following that could have been rescued by the Buddhist Right Speech Superhero? (BRSS)
Scenario 1: You are in the midst of an intimate candlelit dinner with your spouse or even in the middle of lovemaking when your spouse suddenly says in an annoyed tone: “You know you didn’t unload the dishwasher today!”
BRSS: “Thank you for sharing that, dear. I understand you might think we’re not sharing the workload equitably and want to discuss it, which I’m perfectly willing to do. But is this really the right time?”
Right Speech to the rescue!
Scenario 2: Your spouse says, “You know, the last time I checked, your hands are working fine. Would it kill you to unload the damn dishwasher? Are you so blind that you can’t notice that the dishes are clean?”
BRSS: “I understand you might think we’re not sharing the workload equitably and want to discuss it, which I’m perfectly willing to do, but is this most helpful way to motivate me? Especially since… (see number 3).
Thank you, Right Speech!
Scenario 3: “I unloaded the dishwasher again today. You never do it!!! Never!!!”
BRSS: “While it’s true that you unloaded it today, you will notice this video I took on my phone, with the time and date on it, showing that I actually did it yesterday. And here’s another one from the day before and yes, that’s me in the picture putting the dishes away. Oh, and here’s the video of me today taking Jessica to soccer and picking up Justin from the piano lesson after getting the take-out food for dinner, right around the time when you were unloading the dishwasher. So I think the word “never” is not quite true in this particular instance.“
Bam! Right Speech nailed it!
“But now seems like a good time to have a helpful discussion of all our mutual feelings about dishwasher unloading and come up with a true plan for a schedule that feels fair and equitable to us both. But before we do, I just want to say one thing:
You NEVER use Right Speech!! What’s wrong with you!?? Are you incapable of following a simple three-step process?!!!!!
Back to Step One.