Communication

If you ask my mom for one — just one — piece of marriage advise, she’ll tell you, “Don’t go to bed angry.  Work it out so that you can wake up in the morning and start over… fresh.”

As an engaged young woman, I couldn’t see  how this pertained to me, because I would certainly never get angry at my handsome knight in shining armor.  In fact, my grandmother told pretty much everyone in the family that she was worried Nate and I wouldn’t be able to make it… because we didn’t fight enough.

“It’s not normal,” she’d say. 

We had been together for four years and hadn’t fought once.  I was proud of the record, but it wasn’t like I was hiding some internal feelings that were ready to arrupt.  He and I were just easy-going.  We cared about the other’s feelings.  I couldn’t imagine one of us raising our voices at the other.

And then we got married…

We had been blissfully wed for a week and a half when Nate and I went grocery shopping together.  I had this image of he and I dancing through the produce aisles filled with fresh veggies and then waltzing over to the bakery where we would find the perfect whole grain breads.  He, on the other hand, headed straight for the pudding cups and brownie mixes.  And thus said  food products somehow found their way into the shopping carriage (thanks to Nate) and then were slyly hidden behind a box of crackers (thanks to me).  It was like playing hide and seek with food, and gocery shopping took a lot longer than it should have.

So when we finally made it out of the store and I realized that we were super close to having an argument, I relinquished my grocery shopping rights and told him that he could go after work, as he had suggested.  This would help us avoid an argument.  But I never told him how I really felt.  I was too scared that maybe voices would be raised or that maybe he would think me silly.  I mean, who gets hurt while grocery shopping with their husband?  I was totally just being too sensitive.

So I hid what I really felt, instead of talking it out and maybe coming to some sort of healthy food / snack food resolution.  And while I didn’t go to bed angry, I did go to bed feeling frustrated.  And honestly, that’s the same thing.  Because Nate didn’t have a clue.  And while I felt as though we were having a fight, he was singing into a comb trying to make me laugh. 

And so began almost a year of this behavior.  When something hurt me, I wouldn’t tell him.  I’d just smile and laugh and pretend that everything was okay.  He thought married life was the best thing since sliced bread.  I was beginning to think that marriage — while worth it — was going to be harder than I had thought.  Sometimes I felt as though we weren’t as close as we had been when we were dating.  Somehow, our relationship didn’t seem as deep. 

While I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, I soon realized that it was all because I was hiding my true feelings from Nate.  While I was super happy and in love, I didn’t communicate with Nate when he said or did something that bothered me. I just swallowed my hurt and pretended to be okay.  And if you know how different men and women are, then you know that there will be times when one partner hurts the other… even without meaning to.

You know how the big joke is that women are from venus and men are from mars?  Well, that would mean that we’re from the same solar system.  I’m thinking we’re from different galaxies.

There are the little things… Like gift buying.

Men think practical.  For our first Christmas as a dating couple, Nate wanted to buy me a veggie steamer, because he knew I liked eating healthy.  A veggie steamer!  Now I can appreciate practical things and I’m not at all against getting new things for my kitchen… but a veggie steamer for a Christmas present after we had been dating one year?  That wouldn’t have gone down well.  Women, on the other hand, tend to lean towards sentimental.  While I was on vacation with my family, I bought Nate a migit-sized mug from Maine as a souvenir.  I just knew he’d love to look at it every day and think of me.  Nate, on the other hand, was thinking, “Why in the world would they make a mug that’s too small to drink coffee out of?  This thing is only good for catching dust.”

It wasn’t about training Nate to buy me more sentimental gifts, nor was it about Nate teaching me how to shop for a guy.  In fact, it wasn’t even about breaking up and finding someone else who had a clue.  It was about communication.  We just needed to talk.

And then there are the bigger things.

Men see in black and white.  When Nate says, “I really need a vacation, because life has been too much of a routine lately,” he means that he really needs a vacation because life has really been too routine lately.  Women read between the lines and see very color of the rainbow.  Because I’ll hear, “Wow, I really need a vacation, because my wife is boring, she always cooks the same meals, and she just isn’t as interesting as she used to be.  Oh, yeah, and she’s fat.”

Slight exaggeration there, but you know what I’m getting at.  We don’t always hear what’s being said as much as we read into what’s being said.  And when I hear that, instead of clarifying with him what he meant (or even admitting how silly I am by telling him that what he said actually hurt me somehow), I might  just smile, laugh, and pretend that everything is okay.  And suddenly, it’s bed time and Nate is falling asleep right away.  But I’m tossing and turning, feeling too upset and lonely to sleep.  In those cases, I’m going to sleep in anger… even though we didn’t even have a fight! 

This whole communication thing isn’t all that easy.  Trust me.  We’re still working at it.  But it’s so worth it.  Because in the end, you’re being real with the one you love… and that will only make you closer.  And maybe someday we’ll be so good at it that it’ll actually be as though we’re from the same planet — Earth.  😉

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11 Responses to Communication

  1. Abby says:

    So very true about communication. I love that last sentence… in the end both of you are from the same planet 🙂 Best of luck!

  2. jelillie says:

    This was a great blog. There is so much truth in it. Thank you for your willingness to share.

  3. love1025 says:

    this was so honest and real and i love it. we may need a wife swap because my husband can’t shut me up about my feelings…thoughts…concerns…LOL.

    you are my hero 🙂

  4. Girl, you are so honest and real and that is one of the things I love most about you. 😀 This post was so heartfelt and true on so many levels, with men in general (even for us unmarried gals 😉 ).

  5. Meg says:

    Hee hee, yes we are from the same planet! SO much to say, where so I start? Sometimes, it’s ok to go to bed mad. It sucks picking it up again the next day but it can help emotions subside and let each other’s point of view sink in. One thing I remind my hubby when we are disagreeing is that “we’re on the same team!” I remind him that I’m not purposely doing anything to hurt or upset him so lets take a deep breath and figure out how to fix it. TOGETHER. 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      Meg, I like that… that you remind your hubby that you’re on the same team. Awesome point!! (Although I’m still not convinced that guys and girls are from the same planet). Lol! 😉

  6. Stephany says:

    Absolutely loved this post. So much honesty & realness to it. I’m single & it’s so interesting to read posts like these and see how couples interact & deal with LIFE. Everything is not always puppies & rainbows, but communication is key to everything.

  7. bellawilfer says:

    Oh my gosh. I am so learning this one – like you, I do the whole smile and pretend everything is okay thingie. I know I need to get better at communicating, but it’s…well, it’s hard. And it’s hard when you don’t even really have time to talk, much less communicate. Like today. Heh. I think we’ll try the whole communicating thing again tomorrow…

    (Also, I’m learning text messages are incredibly easy to misconstrue and read into!)

  8. dianacheung says:

    communication is something people work at DAILY and working at it will NEVER end cause we always growing and changing as humans. Kudos to this post!

  9. shesarunner says:

    Love this post! Very interesting thoughts.
    First of all, I think it is funny how you pointed out that men are more practical with gifts and women are more sentimental. I think I am such a man in that sense, because I buy practical gifts and usually I prefer to receive practical gifts. Unless it is something like a picture that I can put on my wall, I am not a souvenir person. I’m kind of a neat freak and I don’t like clutter, or having things around my house that I won’t use. I think that is just my quirk though.
    As for the rest of your post, I am a lot like you. I am definitely hypersensitive and I read way too far into the things that people say- especially boyfriends. That is why communication is so important and you just have to speak up if something is bothering you. We can perceive things so differently than they are intended and they are blown out of proportion. I think it is so vital for two people in a relationship to be very open and honest with each other.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  10. I don’t think I read too deeply into what my husband says. Sometimes its what he DOESN’T say that might make me uneasy.

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