Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thinking on Communication

I found myself in a unique position over the weekend. A friend of mine had called upset about an argument with her husband. I spent an hour on the phone trying to get her to calm down and hold off on making any drastic moves. About an hour after I hung up with her, I answered the door to find her husband on my doorstep looking for Steve. Steve was gone working on one of the cars so he talked to me instead.

Normally when a couple fights, you only get one side of the story, the side of whoever is venting to you. Since they were both venting to me, I ended up getting both sides of the story. Steve says it was good practice for my eventual career as a marriage therapist once I finish school.

While it was a bit of an awkward experience, it was also enlightening. I saw that one of the main complaints from both of them was the exact same thing. They were upset that their partner was doing something, but oblivious to the fact that they were doing the exact same thing. I also saw that they had two widely different takes on the same issue.

In the end, the advice I gave each of them was the same. Talk to him/her. Let him/her know how you feel without accusing him/her of making you feel that way. I sent him on his way with a bouquet of roses from my flowerbed to soften her up so she would talk to him (she was pretty pissed).

Later that evening. Steve and I were talking about their situation. We both agreed that their habit of making up without actually dealing with the underlying problem is a big part of their problem. We both agreed that their main issue is their communication or, more accurately, their lack of communication.

It's funny how it's so easy to see it in others, but we struggle to see it in ourselves. This mess we had last week could have been avoided if we had just talked to each other. Instead we both kept quiet. I kept quiet because I didn't want to appear needy or feel like I was burdening him when he had so much on his plate already. He kept quiet because he was scared of what my answer might be if he asked me what was wrong.

We're in our third year of DD. You would think that we'd have the communication aspect down pat by now. And yet we don't. When things start getting bumpy, we both fall back into our old patterns of dealing with it. Instead of talking, we both pull back. He acts like everything is okay and I bottle stuff up.

That's not to say that our communication hasn't improved over the last couple years. It has. We talk more than than we ever did before. But I can't help but wonder how long it's going to take before communicating is the first thing we try, rather than the thing we fall back on after our initial coping mechanisms have failed.

16 comments:

  1. Wise words and thoughts. I guess it takes a long time to undo old, learned behaviors. As long as we keep trying to communicate first, we are on the right track. Someday, our husbands may learn to read our minds but until then, we have to talk and listen. Darn

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    1. Thanks Blondie. While there are times I wish Steve could read my mind, other times it's probably a good thing he can't. LOL

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  2. Communication is most certainly Jordan and I's biggest weakness. Sometimes talking about things isn't easy. Something we are working on too!

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    1. Thanks Lilly. I'm glad to see we're not alone in this.

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  3. Hey Dana...what an interesting position you were in this weekend. I hope you were able to help your friends. It seems to be a very human trait that we revert to our oldest habits for any given situation when we get stressed. You and Steve are doing great.

    Hugs and Blessings...
    Cat

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    1. Thanks Cat. Unfortunately, it seems like they resorted to their usual method of sweeping it under the rug instead of really talking about it. Two days later they were fighting again.

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  4. The fashion designer wears sweatpants all the time. The chef makes Kraft mac n' cheese for dinner. The painter's house has chipped paint. All of us are better at doing things for others than we are for ourselves (OK, *most* of us). That's just the way it is sometimes.

    In your future profession, you will probably see many examples of what *not* to do in a marriage, and it sounds like you're already realizing how you can apply what you see to improving your own marriage. Good luck moving forward from this "pothole;" glad it seemed to be a misunderstanding that was resolvable.

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    1. Thanks Autumn. I'm actually hoping that the classes I take to become a counselor will be helpful to us personally as well. I know we both learned a lot from the communications class we took last semester.

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  5. Whst an interesting position to have been in Dana. It is so much easier to see in others than in ourselves. I think because we aren't as close to it. When it comes to ourselves sometimes it's hard to see the wood for the trees.

    Unfortunately, we all have moments of slipping back into okd habits and coping mechanisms. I think recognising when we do it is the key. You and Steve have come along way in communicating.

    Hugs
    Roz

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    1. Thanks Roz. We are getting better about recognizing those behaviors so that's a point towards progress.

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  6. I agree with Autumn and Roz. If it's possible, take a deep breath, take a step back and get a different perspective. Sometimes we are just too close to get a good view.
    I'm glad you were able to help your friends and I'm super glad you guys have moved passed the pothole. 😊

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    1. Thanks Sarah. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about perspective. When the conflict has to do with us, I have a hard time stepping back to take in a different perspective. That's definitely something I need to work on.

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  7. Thank you so much for this post- I have just gotten back to reading blogs today for the 1st time in awhile & I am so so glad I read this one today. Clark and I have been going through some stuff & communication is at the heart of it, this makes me feel less discouraged & less alone....thank you again & I KNOW you will get to the place where communication is the 1st thing you try & I bet it will be sooner than you think!
    Love,
    Scarlet ; )

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    1. Thanks Scarlet. When I look back over the potholes we've hit on this journey, I can see that all of them boiled down to communication. Either we weren't communicating or we were communicating in a way that the other couldn't understand it.

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  8. I have more conversations with Don in my head than I do in reality. I have such a big mouth, I always wonder why I find it so hard to broach an uncomfortable topic. I argue with Don in my head I kid you not. And when I finally ask him to discuss sonething with me, generally, the conversation goes well vs badly as in my imagination. I'm almost 66, you'd think I would know how to communicate by now, sighing. Communication. It's tough for lots of folks.

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  9. I am beginning to see how much we lack in communication around here as well.
    I wonder though, might there be a pill for that? Sure would be nice if it was only that easy.
    Well, back to work. Thanks for sharing, it is nice to know I am not alone.
    Alice

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