Mis-Communication Woes

English: Scene of the Public Domain short film...

Clear communication – I say, I say you don’t don’t understand what I say (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve gotten so good at communicating with myself, why is it still so darn difficult to communicate with everyone else?

I’m going to continue yesterday’s thoughts here and analyze the communication woes I have with the most important person to me – Hubby. We’ve grown so close, we’ve successfully dealt with demons that many marriages never do, we’ve learned to cherish one another, worked through many sexual hurdles caused by my childhood abuse, speak openly with our families now, work around my mood issues and PTSD troubles . . . Really I could go on and on about all the progress and wonderful parts of our relationship.

But something that still bothers me is how we talk to one another. Our words and tone do not reflect what I now know to be our true feelings for each other. We love and adore each other. Our words are harsh, full of negative tone, confusion, and heartache. Where is this still coming from?

I do want to clarify that when it comes to talking about the big stuff – we are amazingly gentle and completely there for each each other. I know if I need to uppercase TALK, my guy will be there, up all night if needed. Same goes for me, but he never asks for this. Even the medium level talks are going well now, like money and planning schedules – we’re a great team! But it is lowercase talking that gets us in trouble. Stuff that doesn’t matter. Words that come and go with no real purpose – the words that fill in a day.

I’m going to give some examples, but I also want to clarify that these things no longer bother me, I’m not stuck on them and neither is he. Just giving examples of our conversations and reactions. The first example is quite recent and sticks in my head for its pure silliness, but is quite typical for what I’m talking about.

Heading out for something as a family, and my memory is so terrible I can’t remember where we were going, but it was somewhere we had to be on time. Hubby is driving the van, and we pull out on to the main road and get behind a construction vehicle, a truck with a heavy trailer going slowly.

Me – “We’ll have to get around this doodah if we’re going to make it”

Him – Immediately sounds exasperated with this sigh, huffy thing he does “God, what do you want me to do?” Shoots a hurtful glare at me like I am so frustrating and annoying.

Me – Pause, moment of shock, moment of confusion, why is he angry/frustrated? Rethink my comment, figure he must think I’m criticizing his driving. Hmm. “Umm, nothing, just saying this doodah in front of us is driving very slowly and hoping you can get around him and we won’t be stuck behind him the entire time, that’s all” I was picturing a mile long backup of cars.

Him – “Well it’s not like I can just do that any time”

Me – “NO-I know, I didn’t ask you to do anything, it’s fine, and I do understand you can’t pass in a double line area. I didn’t call you a doodah, I called the guy in front of us a doodah”

Him – “Well he has a heavy load”

Me – “I don’t think he heard me, and I don’t think doodah is high on the list of terrible insults. I was thinking more of Foghorn Leghorn when I made the comment, like ‘I say, I say now, that there doodah is driving so slow it’ll take all the doodah day’ That’s why I said doodah, that, and we have a van full of kids” (I’m not angry – but confused, and hoping he isn’t actually angry because it was not my intent to start something or make him feel bad)

Him – Silence

Now, if I had been able to show him the looney tune image in my head when I made that comment and how funny it was to me, then maybe he would have known my comment was not meant to be critical of him or asking him to do anything. My inner world is so busy, and generally ridiculous like that. I often laugh at my own thoughts and images my brain supplies me for entertainment.

———————————————————————————–

Other examples are when we are talking about what we want for dinner or the to-do’s on today’s list. Apparently I make this horrible face when I am trying to remember something and Hubby always thinks I am annoyed with him. Like I’ll be trying to remember if we have any leftovers before we make a new dinner, and he assumes I think his suggestion was bad. Or he’ll keep asking me what time is kiddo’s dentist appointment, and I have to look it up each time, because I can’t hold onto stuff like that. So I sigh, and say “hold on, let me check”. I am annoyed that I can’t remember, that I married someone who also can’t remember, and that he doesn’t look at the calendar himself. Or we go to Wendy’s for lunch because we don’t see a better option and I say “I don’t really want Wendy’s again, but it’ll do” and starts apologizing, and I feel bad for letting the comment slip out. He makes me feel like I am not allowed to ever be annoyed, or voice that I am annoyed or that a minor annoyance on my part means he has seriously screwed up. These things are Not a big deal to me, but my brain likes to comment. I’m annoyed all day long when people interrupt my inner world, it is a part of me and not a commentary on the worth of the interrupter. But how do I convey that better?

My goal here is to stop this pattern of assumptions and miscommunications and speak gently with each other all of the time. I’m pretty sure if anyone other than me made the face or simple comment, he would laugh or shrug it off. But for me, he attaches huge amounts of meaning to things that I never meant to have meaning – just expressing fleeting thoughts as they pop into my head. Should I zip it? Or is there a way for him to leave his own guilt behind and not assume I think the worst of him? He’s so afraid to let me down. I get that. But I’m ready to move ahead of this.

I can’t change my analytical nature, or my honest one , and I don’t want to go back to biting my tongue with him since I do it for everyone else in the world. Can I change how my comments are received? Or do I really nit-pick and criticize enough to warrant his reactions? I honestly don’t know at this point. All I know is I want him to feel loved and peaceful, not judged and edgy.

 

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6 thoughts on “Mis-Communication Woes

  1. In your example of being stuck behind the truck, all I could think was how frustrated he must be and to have you voice his thoughts was you voicing his own self-criticizism, so he’s not only berating himself and the guy in front of him but you jumped on the bandwagon.

    As to the little stuff, maybe it’s a matter of habit. You’ve worked hard to improve the tough stuff. The everyday surface stuff not so much. One does not translate over to the other. They’re very different types of communication coming from different places.

    • I think you may be right about his own self-criticism. I know he blames himself too much for my issues and tends to feel at fault far too often. I try to be aware and delicate of that, but it still catches me at times. I’ve been trying to encourage him to do his own therapy, but he only went a couple times to make me happy and has not been back.

      It doesn’t really help that I am actively trying to improve us, so sometimes it really is criticism from me as I want things to be better. Especially when he yells, I tell him that was a big scary voice the kids didn’t need.

      Some of this is definitely habit – for both of us. And I’m finding out he has so many assumptions about what “I meant” even though it isn’t even close to what I said or actually meant.

  2. Sometimes I find that when I voice my own internal thoughts or observations, my husband interprets that either as a “duh” (like he didn’t already know), a directive or instruction (telling him what to do) or criticizing him for not doing something. I can’t change his interpretation, so instead, I try not to voice all the random thoughts in my head (and there are many). It has helped. HUGS

    • Yes I do think I need to hold back at times and not voice every thought with him. It’s just that I used to hold it all back and resent him for it. Don’t want to go back to that just to keep the peace. I need to find a balance here and keep talking to him about it so he knows I’m not against him.

  3. Similar struggles here. My counselor gave me some thoughtful suggestions. Invite my husband into my inner world, since he has shown repeatedly that he respects me. Share the whole image of the rooster and invite your DH to share your frustration. Sharing an emotion, I learned, is much different than criticism. The other thing I found was a book on Nonviolent communication. I am reading it slowly because it is rewiring my vocabulary. Here is a link to it. You may want to see if they have a copy at the library. http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1892005034 I like his approach but it is also a fairly significant change in the words I use. I am a work in progress but I received a couple of compliments lately that tell me I am making progress. Hugs. If you have the desire, the way will open.

    • Thanks for the book link, I will check it out. Maybe if I can change the words I use by habit, he’ll get a different meaning from me.

      After talking to him the past few days, I’m afraid this runs deeper though. He has not forgiven himself yet for not always being there for me, and is super afraid to let me down. It’s only been a few months since we separated and I think he feels it may be a trial basis. And guys are so action oriented, that when I make an observation he is looking for the “to-do”.

      Some of this is plain old frustration and exhaustion from marriage and raising kids on top of my PTSD. I’ve been doing so well, that it is devastating for him to think I am not all better. So if I voice that I’m having a bad day, he thinks it is his fault. So complicated.

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