In recent years, thanks to a lot of very frank conversations with my wife I have found out a little more about the relationship dance. Often times it is not the action that is important, it is the intent and how you communicate that intent. We don’t have to always guess exactly what our significant other wants, we just have to want to make them feel special.
One of the most famous arguments, and to me most frustrating is “What are we going to have for dinner?” We have tried so many different ways of settling that dumb argument, but in the end as long as I continue to be both flexible, loving and not frustrated with her inability to just know what she wants (or me guess what she wants before she knows it herself) we are O.K.
I am the master of taking things personal. Using that same example I would see it as a competition. Hey I am “better” because I will eat whatever, I am the flexible one, I win. In reality I was not being the best I husband I could be in that situation. I could have been providing choices and enjoying the whole experience of picking something together. I could have been decisive and say, this is what I want tonight, or I really have a taste for this. Instead many times I would just trow my arms up in frustration and just give up. Dumb right? But so are any arguments when communication breaks down.
I am a firm believer that we all have pressure valves. We never argued about much, but for a bit we seemed to argue about that dinner thing a lot. That was a way for us to get frustration out. There are more constructive ways of course, but nobody is perfect.
Everyone talks about communication but nobody really tells you what it means. I have a simple formula for it.
If there is anything that you tell a friend and you end with the sentence “but I cannot tell X to Y because they will get mad, or won’t understand, or never listen,” then you are not communicating.
We all seem to get into this routine of thinking we know a person completely and know their reactions to everything. It is almost like we are in a game show like the newlywed and lose if we don’t know all the answers.
Guess what, though? That’s wrong! The best part about a relationship is having the room for the other person to surprise you. Hey you might have been married to them forever and they hate spicy food, but then maybe the one hundred time you ask they might be like, “you know what, let me give it a go.”
I am not saying that you should push every button that you know the other person does not like. I am saying don’t always assume the same response, don’t always try to guess what they would say. You may know them well and know 90% of the responses and be right… but what about that other 10%. That is what communication is about. Letting yourself be surprised by that 10% that is different from the same response as always.
I have done things in life that I never though I would. I am learning things about myself every day. A lot of it thanks to my wife. Are we perfect? No way. We still have our communication problems. I think is important to keep on asking questions, never thinking we know everything about each other. That keeps it fun, keeps it fresh.
Most important of all, make sure that you do communicate those things you think you can’t. Make sure it is at the right time and in the right setting, but say them. Your partner in life should be that person that you can share everything with. If you don’t feel you can, there is something wrong and it should be addressed.
Trust me, you will have a way happier relationship if you ask what the other person is feeling or thinking instead of assuming you always know.