This is the second in a series of challenges we face when communicating within marriage.
The first post of this series was a reminder to lighten up. Rather than getting defensive, reacting too quickly or taking our stress out on our spouses, there are times that we can reframe a moment and even see the humour in it.
It’s a reminder to treat each other the way we would have on our first few dates.
Today’s marriage tip is that no matter how hard we try, misunderstandings are bound to happen.
Misunderstandings happen when you each believe you are being abundantly clear.
Here’s one from our vault.
So apparently I snore. Badly. However, there is no physical proof of this that would hold up in a court of law. It is only my husband’s word against mine. I suppose jurors would side with him, though, since I’m asleep at the time.
In my defense, he also snores. So basically it’s a competition to see who can get to sleep first. The other not-sleeping-person will lie there and be tortured.
A while ago, Bob* (name changed to protect Marc’s identity) was snoring fiercely. I nudged him, poked him, elbowed him and whispered semi-violently, “Go on your side!” Because snoring stops instantly when the perpetrator is lying on their side, right?
My hubby mumbled, scooched over a bit and continued to snore loudly on his back.
Clearly he must have misunderstood me. Or was being downright rebellious. I hadn’t decide which.
I repeated the whole routine. Nudge, poke, elbow, spitty whisper, “Go. On. Your. Side!”
To my dismay, he wiggled over another 2 inches and continued to SNORE ON HIS BACK.
Not sure how much more clear I could make myself, I flung off the blankets and barked, “Hon. Please. Go On Your Side!”
With confused squinty eyes, he mumbled, “If I move over any more I will fall out of bed. I AM on MY side.”
“No. Not on your side of the bed. Roll onto your SIDE!”
How we respond to misunderstandings will bring us closer or push us apart.
At this point my options were simple:
- Push my husband onto the floor and hope to sleep in peace.
- Move into the top bunk of our boys’ room.
- Burst out laughing that we were both so confused by the other person.
We can both be convinced we are being perfectly clear. The speaker of words and the hearer of words.
But somehow from our lips to their ears, meaning is lost in translation.
And if we let small misunderstandings build up, they become barriers over time. How do I know? I am a professional barrier builder.
No matter how hard we try, clear communication in marriage is tough, even after years of practice. Consider the many factors that influence how we communicate:
- Personality differences
- Communication styles
- Our upbringing
With this many complicating factors, we should be pleasantly surprised when we DO communicate clearly.
So how can you ensure clear communication, especially after conflict?
Sandy Ralya, author of Fulfilled in Marriage, writes:
If you haven‘t communicated to the point of resolution, continue opening the lines of communication by being direct and kind, choosing the proper time and place to speak, and listening carefully.
This applies to any relationship but there are unique stresses on couples who have children. We have to be intentional about finding time just for us. We need to steal away to a quiet place to talk things through.
To simply reconnect.
And if that can only be before one of you starts to snore, then make that a sacred, scheduled time.
Any examples of a similar misunderstanding come to mind? A time when you felt you were being abundantly clear, but the message was still being minconstrued? Have you been a professional barrier builder, or do you work through challenges well as a couple?
If you face a more serious misunderstanding, or a recurring issue, consider reaching out for help navigating it together.
In the meantime, if you come across any His & Her earplugs, please let me know.
Humour has been a lifeline in our marriage. Isn’t it so easy to take ourselves too seriously? Sip a coffee and click these images, for more reflections on marriage communication. If nothing else, you will learn what not to do through my frayed wife-ness. Sometimes just Frayed. Sometimes Lightly Frayed. Welcome.
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Wow! Once again your post hits the nail on the head! This miscommunication thing…it causes so many hardships and hurt feelings in marriages, and we often meet with couples who have misunderstood and hurt each other so much for so long that they’re at an impasse. They don’t know how to get past it all. Karen, your humour coupled with wisdom for couples and for parents is so helpful. I’ve been recommending your blog to everyone. Great stuff! Keep up the wonderful work.
Your encouragement came at the perfect time, Wende. Today I was wondering if my words are making (or will make) a difference. Thanks for being a timely cheerleader 🙂
Karen!!! I love your blog…you provide such good insight into situations nearly all of us face. I agree that clear communication is so key in marriage and frankly, every relationship. Misunderstandings are inevitable, but being willing to hear (and truly listen to!) our spouse’s point of view makes all the difference. I appreciate the reminder of this today! And once again, you managed to put a smile on my face with your writing!
Thanks for relating to the message behind the stories again, April.
This is so true! And I love how you put a funny spin on things. My husband is the snoring perpetrator and absolutely refuses to believe me when I tell him. Glad I am not alone.
We have both considered recording the others as evidence. Hasn’t come to that….yet. 😉
In defence of BOB, sleeping close to the edge of the bed with the impending terror that you might fall out does indeed cure the occasional bout of snoring.
Poor Bob. He is definitely the victim in the story. That savage wife trying to push him off the bed.
Yes, this is so right. I have to remind myself that my husband isn’t setting out to annoy me sometimes. It helps to take a step back and try to see things a bit more objectively. Thanks for the reminder!
Stepping back to regain perspective is great wisdom. Thanks, Kim.
This cracked me up!!! “Marriage is sexy!” Hahahaha. I don’t snore but my husband does and I will be honest i have kicked him pretty hard some nights and then desperately try to fall back asleep before him??? now I know that’s just an example you gave but communication is huge and something I feel like the more kids and the older they get the more I need to be purposeful because j Judy forget to communicate sometimes:-/
Glad I made you laugh today, Jillynn. It can be tricky to stay focused on communicating as the kids stay up later (or understand everything we say, so we can no longer talk ‘in code’). And definitely adding a few extra little ones can make it an extra challenge. I love how one reader explains to her husband, “I used up all my niceness today.” I think every Mom gets that!
Karen, thanks for the laugh! I needed it today! And it is so true that we shouldn’t allow misunderstandings to derail our marriage.
It is easy to get derailed at times, isn’t it? That’s a powerful image. I can be pleasantly surprised when we get back on track much faster than we expect. Shall we call it getting rerailed? Hmmm…
I laughed when I read “Go on your side!” My husband and I have this issues constantly! We love each other because we are so different, but at the same time that’s our biggest struggle area! Thanks for sharing on such a relevant topic!
Isn’t that the truth, Erin. Opposites are so…opposite.
Oh man, the snoring! Ugh! Great post about such a real issue. The advice to lighten up is spot on too. I’m visiting from Hope Wriiters and can’t wait to visit again.
Welcome to our little space Valerie. Yes – the snoring struggle is real. Working on an upcoming post called Mopping is the New Sexy – there is no end to the sparkles and romance in marriage, is there?
Great post about such a real issue! I’m visiting from Hope Writers and I’m looking forward to visiting again because it looks like you have some great articles here.
Thanks for popping over here Valerie. I truly appreciate your encouragement.
Sarah Dowell says
Karen! This post is so good and hilarious. I read it myself and then cried from laughing so hard when I read it to my husband… The “go on your side /I’m gonna fall off the bed, I am on my side” conversation has happened more than a few times here. Absolutely dead on. I LOVE the humour you use to wrap up your great advice, nicely done. I really look forward to your emails.
Sarah: My turn to laugh over here. Love funny moments with spouses especially when both parties get the joke. 😉 Your encouragement means more than you know. Off to Snoresville!