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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