Marriage Monday isn’t over yet. Sorry for the late posting. I was sitting down to write when my father called from the emergency room telling me he had called an ambulance for my mother. Needless to say the computer got left and my parents got my attention. They are home and all is well for now so I will return to my thoughts of this morning.
Mark and I spent the past weekend with couples from Minnesota investing in their marriage relationships. We got to talk to lots of couples most of whom participated in our weekend but others just were a part of the church body we were hosted by. It was a great reminder to me again that the single most frustrating and rewarding thing in a relationship is communication. Communication is key. It is essential. It is the groundwork for everything! So why is it universally such a problem? I think the problem is we just go too fast and expect too much out of our spouse. Actually this is true in all our relationships, with siblings, friends, co-workers etc. We just blast into a conversation using terminology that we understand, suggesting things but really hoping they understand that it’s not a suggestion and sometimes we even purposefully leave things out. We wouldn’t want to “hurt their feelings” you know.
On our way home Mark and I took a break from our driving and walked through an outlet store. As we rounded the corner of one display we saw a set of metal stairs on wheels with a chain across the bottom complete with a sign that said not to stand on the stairs. They were for employees to stock shelves. I’m sure you’ve seen the type. Standing at the very top was a darling little girl with curly black hair. After asking the only other customer in sight if this was her daughter we began talking to the little girl. “Could we help you down?” We (Mark first and then me) held up our arm for her to take our hand. “Can you hold my hand? I’ll help you find your mom.” She did not move nor say one word. She just stood there looking at us, frozen in her spot. Within minutes I heard the other customer calling around a near by display. “Are you looking for your child? She’s over here.” Just then a pretty lady poked her head around the corner, gasped as she looked at the little girl standing at the very top of these stairs and began talking to her as she rushed over. The little girl smiled and leaned into her mother’s arms when she was close enough. The thing is the mother talked to her little girl in another language. We were communicating to her in a language we fully understood but she didn’t. It can be just like that with your spouse. You are talking but they just aren’t getting it. It’s frustrating. If this sounds like things in your house I have a suggestion to start with – slow down. Think about what you really want to say before you say it. Be sure you have your spouse’s attention BEFORE you begin. That alone will save a lot of time and frustration. Chances are you won’t have to repeat yourself so many times.
Also, take some time to learn how your spouse communicates best. Some people call this their “love language” or learning style is another way to refer to it. Do they like audible communication, or is written and read a better way for them to learn? Do they need to “see” what you are talking about or have a “hands on” experience to really solidify what you are saying? Mark and I just reviewed this and were reminded that I like to read to learn but I like to hear positive affirmation from him. He is a hands on learner but also likes verbal affirmation. That reminded us of some ways to communicate that could cut down on the frustration level for both of us. We’re working on some new projects together. As I’m learning via reading I’ve also made an appointment for us to meet with an Apple tech to teach us how to “do” what we want to do on our computer. Just reading instructions won’t work the best for Mark. He will learn it quicker than me when he does it, so I need to read the instructions first and then watch. Together we will learn it. What about you? Do you know how your spouse “listens” or “learns” best?