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I am not like everyone else, I have real trouble communicating!

June 21, 2011

I intended when I started this blog to post several times a week and I admit I am having some difficulty hitting that mark.  I have lots of excuses to offer this week:  I had some storm damage and developed a leak in the kitchen that I just got finished painting, Chris’s pager has been going off at times of the day that start with zero, and I had to watch the finale of Top Chef Masters.  See, full week.

I did have time this week for a break with a very good friend who has me thinking about communication and how we differ from person to person and from family to family and how much that influences our closest relationships.

She said something that took me off guard a little bit but has really stuck with me.  What I remember her saying is something close to “I am not like everyone else, I have real trouble communciating”.  I fired back with something kind of like:  “Everyone has trouble communicating and if they tell you they don’t, they are lying to you, themselves, or both”.  While I think that is true on some level, I have also been thinking about it and wondering if there is some continuum there that everyone falls in but where they fall is pretty consistent through all of their relaitonships and how do you examine that in yourself and make it better…now I am not sure if this sentence ends with a question mark or a period.

So I have been thinking alot about myself.  My family of origin is loud.  We talk loud, sing loud, be happy loud and get angry loud.  That is what I learned growing up.  the more engaged or emphatic you were, the louder you got.  Fighting was no exception and I think most of the time we didn’t even realize out tone or volume because we were all playing from the same rulebook.

In college, my mother gave me and my sister a set of tapes to listen to about marriage.  Her intent was, I think, if we have a better understanding of what marriage should be, we would have better sense about picking a mate.  They were really good tapes and I wish I could remember who made them because I would like to listen to them again and share them.  One thing that has stuck with me from them was the speaker pointing out the importance of understanding how you fight and how much your family of origin influences that part of what we bring to our relationships–communication.

I remember the first real fight that Chris and I think we had been married a short time when I was yelling at him and he just walked away.  Talk about fanning the flame.  It just kicked up my volume and intensity and I followed.  He left the house.  When he came back he very calmy explained to me that he would not communicate with me while I was yelling.  It wasn’t productive and he would not participate.  I felt like he didn’t care enough to engage with me.  Then we had a real discussion about how we learned to fight and how we were going to choose to fight going forward.  Being loud at his house meant something very different from being loud at my house growing up.  It took a few tries, but I don’t yell anymore.   My husband shuts down and it gets me no where and (though I hate to say it) he was right, it usually isn’t productive.

I was thinking today after my friend’s statement how that piece of me and how I now fight with my husband has seeped over into other relationships.  Not that I fight with anyone very often, but how do I get my point across?  I think I am much less loud than I might have otherwise been in both professional and personal relationships.  I can not remember the last time I shouted.  I am glad that is a lesson that I learned before I had children.  I want them to learn to express themselves and their fellings without having to raise their voice and I don’t want them to associate the intensity of feeling with the level of noise .

Thoughts?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    June 21, 2011 5:03 pm

    You’re right – we all have some failures to communicating effectively. Mine — I’m passive agressive. I will get terribly hurt/annoyed/angry at someone and stew about it forever. And maybe never address it because I abhor confrontation. And I’m the opposite of loud and vocal when I’m angry — I stop talking altogether. There have been stretches of 4 days where I didn’t speak more than one-syllable words to Ryan. My justification? “I’m waiting until I’m not angry so we can speak logically and kindly and effectively address the situation.” It makes perfect sense to me, but my husband thinks I’m off my rocker. (Good grief — sorry for the novel!)

    • June 21, 2011 5:51 pm

      Those days make me crazy, too. When I know he has something ruminating but he isn’t ready to talk about it yet. God keeps trying to teach me patience in line at the grocery store. I am working on it.

  2. Melissa permalink
    June 21, 2011 5:37 pm

    I think this in true in every marriage. We both come from different families who handle practically everything differently. As we are about to celebrate 27 years together, I am so glad to be here. We still have miscommunication at times but we have both learned that we are both human and really didn’t mean to hurt each, forget something on purpose, or just are too busy to appreciate each other. Sometimes we just need to stop and take time for each other ALONE! Megan has her first boyfriend and I already see the differences in his opinions and family and ours. It makes me think if he turns out to be the one someday. They will have a lot to learn and compromise. But this is what makes a marriage grow. Learning that my way is definitely not the only way, just one of many, sure makes life a lot easier.

    • June 21, 2011 5:48 pm

      Melissa,
      That was the final crux of the conversation with my friend: We just learned an important lesson early on in our relationship. And it is never too late to learn if you are willing!

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