The Sprinkles Story with Laura Long, LMFT/S
Vulnerability in Communication
In this episode, Laura shares The Sprinkles Story, a story about a conflict in her marriage and how she worked through it with some reflection, vulnerability, and honest communication to connect with her partner.
Laura’s Sprinkles Story:
Laura and her husband met in college and began dating. After about a year of dating, Laura was on track to go to graduate school in a different state. While she didn’t do long distance, her husband (then boyfriend) wasn’t comfortable moving without a promise or commitment. Their different stances were putting a strain on the relationship.
Instead of talking about it, tension built.
One day, while making a cake for a friend, they had to go to the grocery store to get sprinkles. Somehow, in the middle of Aisle 4, Laura and her husband (again, then-boyfriend) disagreed on which sprinkles to buy. But this wasn’t just any disagreement. This was a yelling and screaming fight over sprinkles that led to them getting escorted out of that grocery store.
What this Sprinkles Story Means:
When sharing this story, Laura asks every couple, “Do you think that my husband and I were actually fighting about sprinkles that day?”
At the time, Laura would have thought they were fighting about sprinkles. But after reflecting on this and cooling down for a couple of days, Laura came to the conclusion that we can all see, too.
“We were fighting about the future of our relationship” Laura realized.
Their relationship didn’t feel very secure. Would they move together, would they commit to each other, or would they break up?
Spoiler alert: They stayed together, he went to another state with her while she started graduate school, and now she can look back on the Sprinkles story, laugh, and appreciate the insight it brought for their relationship.
Sprinkles in Your Relationship:
You and your spouse probably get into “sprinkles” fights too: the laundry, the dishes, taking the trash out, etc. Over time, these “sprinkles” arguments build up.
But when you have the “sprinkles” issues, what is it that you actually aren’t talking about?
It’s important to get to the root, the heart of what’s going on, and figure out what the argument is actually about.
When you feel connected to your spouse, the smaller things like laundry and chores may not matter as much. But anything can become an argument when you’re feeling disconnected from your partner.
How You can be Vulnerable and Receptive to Communicating with Your Spouse:
- So often, couples get caught up in getting through the day: transporting kids, planning dinner, busy work schedules. If you’re starting to notice little arguments, or either of you are feeling more irritable, recognize this as a red flag. The socks on the floor aren’t about the socks on the floor. Take time to reflect and be mindful about what happens for you in the moment you experience that small issue. What’s really going on with you in those moments? What are you really feeling? It might be that you feel unheard, uncared for, disrespected, or something else.
- Look inward. What do the sprinkles actually mean to you?
- Also think back. When was the last time you and your partner had a big issue come up? Maybe there’s something still lingering that you don’t have closure on.
- Instead of making firm statements of “I think our argument is because of this issue”, you can say “I wonder if that argument was about this issue, and not what we were actually fighting about.” Wondering out loud allows your partner to also reflect and think about the meaning of the argument.
- You can preface the conversation by first asking permission to have the conversation, and working to discuss this at a time when you can both be calm and receptive to hearing what each other shares.
Action Steps for the “Sprinkles” Issues in Your Marriage:
- Sprinkles arguments will come back up if you don’t work through them. Laura shares what you can actually say to your spouse to begin the discussion and work through the issue together: “Look, I know that that was kind of silly that we blew that out of proportion. I’m sorry that I yelled at you over something that seems so silly, so trivial now looking back. I was wondering if we could have a conversation about what I think might be going on underneath that, because I really don’t think I was that mad at you about the dishes. I think it went a little bit deeper than that, and I want to talk to you about it.”
- Assume benevolence. Your partner likely isn’t trying to hurt you. When things escalate, we might use hurtful words. But generally if your partner is doing something that makes you angry, they may not intend to. Think about how you might have also contributed to the issue and impacted their feelings. By assuming benevolence, you’re choosing to not think the worst of your partner. You’re choosing to be receptive to working through the heart of the issue and communicating openly.
Connect with Laura:
Laura Long is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor. She has years of experience working with couples, and now works often with stressed out, burned out entrepreneurs. If you’re that stressed-out, burned-out entrepreneur who might be seeing the impact of your stress on your relationships, you can connect with Laura at Lauralongtherapy.com.
Special thanks to:
Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.
My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast.
Connect with me at marriagingpodcast.com