My wife and I took advantage of a little 24 hour get-a-way this weekend. These 24 hour breaks are a long-standing tradition of ours and one we had not done in a while. They are great because while we are able to take time for ourselves it doesn’t take all weekend, which then allows us time to manage some of the stuff that we need to take care of: not a bad compromise. So we were walking on a windy Northern California beach after sunset, when I noticed my wife had her warm little beanie on. As my ears were becoming numb and tingly, I reminded her that I did not have my beanie because she and my daughter threw it out, unbeknownst to me. One day I was looking for it and when I saw my wife and daughter look at each other and try not to smile, I knew at that moment they had ditched my beloved beanie. She reminded me that they threw it out because…well, they tell me, I had a big head, and gee, “It really doesn’t look good on you”. Head size in our family seems to be a topic of conversation for some reason. Back to the walk…As I looked at my wife with her warm ears, I reminded her how nice it would be to have a warm beanie right now. She looked at me and laughed, as I sang the song “There ain’t no beanie big enough”…of course to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
This led me to think of the great Motown hit recorded by the Diana Ross and the Supremes in 1965. The story behind this Motown hit, Stop! In the Name of Love, has a lesson for us that underscores the wisdom of just stopping when the conversation with our partner is on the slippery slope. Lamont Dozier was a song writer and part of a production team for the Supremes, as well as other great Motown groups like The Isley Brothers and The Four Tops. Apparently Lamont and his girlfriend were having an argument, she started heading out the door when Lamont was inspired to yell, “Stop…in the name of love.” She did indeed stop and began laughing. Lamont’s quick thinking and use of humor did the trick. Things calmed down and Lamont had the beginning of an idea for the song that would eventually hold the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles. This well known song was part of a series of continuous hits for the Supremes – is it running through your head right now? It is for me as I am writing this blog – but I digress.
The lyrics start with “Stop! In the Name of Love, before you break my heart…think it over, think it over”. The song goes on to mention that the lover is heading out the door to someone else, but the story in this song is the wisdom underneath those few lyrics above. When an argument starts heating up, take a breath, and just stop in the name of love; take a break, take a walk, and if you can, make an agreement with your partner to stop.
The wisdom of “think it over” is building in a lag between thoughts and the words that come out of the mouth. We all can say things that we don’t mean when we are angry. When we are really overwhelmed with emotion we become flooded with that emotion. John Gottman’s research on diffuse physiologic arousal indicates that couples can not listen or process anything when one or both partners are flooded; our bodies become overwhelmed with stress hormones, a rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and other symptoms of an activated sympathetic nervous system in the fight or flight mode.
Next time you get angry, before you break your partners heart, “Stop in the Name of Love”, and “Think it over, think it over”. Let the song play in your head, or you can think of a guy with a big head stretching the beaney to its limits.