We are examining challenges we face when communicating within marriages. The first post of this series was a reminder to simply 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.
Easy? Definitely not.
Possible? I really believe so.
Today’s marriage tip is that no matter how hard we try to be abundantly clear, misunderstandings are bound to happen. How we respond to those misunderstandings will either bring us closer or push us apart. Allow me to illustrate.
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. Since I’m asleep at the time, I imagine most jurors would side with him.
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.
Marriage is sexy.
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 it is scientifically proven that 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!”
Working Through Miscommunications
This silly story illustrates that we can both be convinced we are being perfectly clear. The speaker of words and the hearer of words. Yet we often miss the mark in either or both roles.
And if we let small misunderstandings build up, they can become barriers over time. How do I know this? I can be 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 (gender, communication style, personality differences, upbringing….)
We should probably be pleasantly surprised when we DO communicate clearly.
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 extra intentional about finding time just for us. We need to steal away to a quiet place to talk things through. We need to 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.