(Recap Part 1/3) We continue our conversation with Nick and Shihui, the husband and wife creators of Pillow Tok. We explore what they learnt about each other in creating Pillow Tok, and how it could help singles and couples at different stages of relationship. (Read Part 3/3)
Charlene (C): Great to have you back guys! In our last conversation, you shared how your personal experiences inspired you to create Pillow Tok. Have you noticed changes in how you communicate as a couple?
Shihui (S): I’m winning all our fights! LOL!
C: Hahahah, if the cards can help with that, I’m definitely using them! 😂
S: Nick may bar me from interviews after this. 😆
Nick (N): I can’t, you might sue me! Seriously though, we do go back to Pillow Tok questions to talk about our relationship - the questions are in my subconscious, and they come up when they need to. Take “Humble Pie” for example. Working together on this deck has helped me realise how important it is to talk things through, apologise, reconcile, and not let something fester overnight like a cancer. I've also learnt a lot from hearing how other people respond to the questions. They've helped to broaden my range of choices in our relationship.
C: Could either of you share an example of that?
S: It was how someone answered "Space Between: How do you balance transparency and privacy in your relationship?”. This participant mentioned that transparency "isn't about coming clean about your entire relationship history but being willing to openly share with your partner the thoughts and feelings that arise in this current relationship." Suddenly, I could let go of the need to know more about Nick's past relationships. The response helped me see, what's most important is that Nick matured from his previous relationships, and he brings that maturity and wisdom into the relationship we're building now.
C: That's quite a paradigm shift, to see transparency in that light.
N: We all come with histories...parts of which might be difficult to share. I recall a response someone gave to the question “Shape of You”. This person shared about how some aspect of this is about upkeeping physical appearances, but it's much more than that. It's really about how his partner was taking care of herself and staying healthy. He would be concerned if her behaviour might reflect that she didn't care about her health. He articulated it in a way that gave voice to why I think it’s important too. I want my wife and I to remain healthy for as long as possible as we grow old together.
C: I can see how couples might get into conflict because they misinterpret where each other is coming from. Is there an instance where a response you gave changed how you saw each other?
S: My answer isn’t so much about Nick’s response to a Pillow Tok question but an actual situation which changed my perspective of him. It gave rise to the question "Fair Play - What does it mean to fight fairly as a couple?" I remember an early argument we had when we first got together. I was still feeling insecure about the relationship. Something bad had happened that day. I called him 3 times that day, felt quite shaken and wanted to hear his voice. Nick didn't answer my calls or messages until several hours later. By then I had gotten over the incident but was extremely upset with him "ignoring me"! When he finally called, I blurted out "you don't care about me or how I feel!" Poor Nick was completely bewildered. However, he was very calm, apologised immediately, "I'm sorry I've upset you" and asked me to "slow down and explain what happened step by step". When I heard his apology, my anger lessened greatly.
As I unpacked my feelings, I realised I had gone from "I want to hear his kind and friendly voice", to "what happened to Nick", to "doesn't he realise the severity of the matter", to "why is he ignoring me", to "he doesn't care about me at all" - all in a span of four hours!
C: Sounds like a lot was going on internally during that time. I like how you articulated your thoughts and emotions so clearly. How did you resolve this?
S: After hearing me out, Nick reassured me that he wasn't ignoring me. He was simply working on something and left his phone in another room to ensure complete concentration. We had a good laugh about how quickly things can escalate! Later on, we decided that a good practice is to address the event that created unhappiness ("I needed to talk to you about something bad that happened and I couldn't reach you"), instead of starting the conversation with assumptions ("you're ignoring me!"). That was immensely helpful in our later disagreements, lol. We agreed that we would stick to the facts and not accuse each other or comment on each other's character unfairly.
C: I’m glad that you can now laugh about that episode!
S: Nick might be upset when he hears this - after that episode, I went from thinking "Nick doesn't understand people have emotions! He doesn't have emotions!" to "oh, he does understand emotions...and next time there's a crisis or emergency, I can rely on him to stay calm!" 😂😂
N: I think my emotions are kept tightly under wraps. So your early impressions of me are quite understandable dear!
For me, hearing Shihui's responses to “Sequel” changed how I treated her. It wasn't just our first date but many of the early dates we had. Hearing her recollect her thoughts and feelings from that time has helped me appreciate her in new ways and realise my own insensitivities. For example, I often showed up late or kept her waiting, even on our early dates! I realised I took her for granted then, and even now. I'm reminded to treat her with greater care and consideration. Buried in what I just shared is a glimpse of her powers of recollection. It’s her secret mutant ability. She can recount many things in great detail: how we dressed, what we said, how we said it. It still amazes me today.
S: I think most women have this ability, haha!
That was part 2 in our 3-part series on Nick and Shihui’s journey in creating Pillow Tok. Any thoughts or burning questions for Nick or Shihui? Type it in the chat bubble on the bottom right corner of this screen.
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Order Pillow Tok here.