Sunday, November 29, 2009

Listen up!

We talked about communication on the drive home. In our marriage when our communication is good, it's GREAT. Unfortunately when it's bad, it's HORRID.

Consistent, good (or dare I say excellent? does excellent exist?) communication is clearly a huge part of a successful marriage. It's also something you can't just 'arrive' at one day and never have to worry about again.

Can you ever be TOO good at communication?
What is 'communication' anyhow?

We've been transmitting and receiving messages. We're communicating, right? Why, then, is it so difficult? Why do I frequently feel like kicking something and shouting? (P.S. I've done both.)

The messages don't seem to be getting through. Is that my fault? Can it really be *my* fault?!? I keep sending messages and sending them and sending them and sending them more and more and more and MORE until I've completely exhausted every last way I can think of to make my message clearly understood. Clearly understood by a person who thinks like me. Does he think like me? Uh. No.

Is he understanding? Have I stopped for even a breath or two to discover what message he is receiving? Or am I just assuming he's correctly receiving the message I'm transmitting? And then when he responds in a way that makes me think he's missing my message, instead of simply asking for clarification on what he perceives my message to be, I kick into power message delivery mode because OBVIOUSLY SOMEone didn't get the MESSAGE and HOW could he be so DENSE - I'm making it PERFECTLY CLEAR. Just ask the 97 people I've lined up for his convenience.

"THEY get it, why don't YOU?"

Wasn't he listening?!? It's all HIS fault. It can't be mine. I was clear as day... to someone who thinks like I do. Perhaps I was clear as day... to someone who was raised in my family, or who shared the same or similar experiences and influences as I did.

Does he think like me? Heavens, no. (I have the perfect blog post ready to illustrate this point but he has yet to approve it's posting. Rally together and sway his position!)
Was he raised in my family? Thank the Lord, no.
Did he have many of the same experiences and influences as I did? Some yes, most no.
Is any of that his fault? No.

So what's my problem again? He doesn't understaaaaaaaaaand what I'm saaaaaaaaaying!

I think much of that is my fault. I need to make sure the message I transmit is the message he receives, however long that might take, whatever hoops I might have to jump through (flaming or not.) It's part of being a 'responsible' communicator. (Practice safe communication!) I need to take the time to understand how he thinks, why he acts and how he feels when I do and say certain things. Of course it's a lot of work and takes lots of time and energy and is often frustrating. But I think it's energy well spent and certainly has better results than kicking a wall or shouting.

It doesn't matter if I line up ten or twenty other people who would instantly receive my intended message precisely as I meant it the first time. So what if they understand? So what if they get what I'm saying? What good is that to me? I want HIM to understand. HE is my audience. And that's just not going to happen unless I put some serious work into speaking HIS language and NOT mine.

Given our highly dissimilar 'dialects' it's rather mind-boggling that we managed to fall in love and stay in a relationship for four years before getting married. The 'language barrier' in our marriage is VERY GREAT at times and the lack of a skilled translator is quite evident!

Time to get to work. Yes, the work is hard, challenging and let's not forget humbling... but I've got the rest of my life to learn. I hope I learn sooner than later. He probably hopes so too. =)

So I think it's time I made some forward progression. My foot was getting bruised anyway.


Well that was a fun little exercise in free writing. I had no idea that was even in me 30 minutes ago.

So... if I may ask... what message did *you* receive? =)


  1. Unfortunately I identified with waaaaay too much of your post. (Perhaps that only proves the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.) Anyway, you spoke about being a willing and responsible communicator,...... I agree with the importance of that duty. BUT, there's also the matter of being a willing and responsible listener; ie a responsible receiver. So, it seems to me, the responsibility for good/excellent communication falls equally on both, the 'speaker'' and the 'listener'. Intentionality is a HUGE component on both sides. Do you think it has anything to do with maleness and femaleness?? Maybe just a little bit??? LOLYou express yourself beautifully through writing, you have a gift.

  2. Ummmm. Stay. Outta. My. Head. LOL Seriously, do you have a camera hidden around here somewhere? This is probably our #1 struggle. I can't imagine we will ever fully overcome it. But we are trying. You're right; it's hard work and takes a lot of intentionality... and it is mentally EXHAUSTING sometimes. But so necessary.

  3. I think this is a ridiculously common occurence, and I agree with both you and Superman's Mom.Communication, by its very definition, is a two-way street, and can only be as strong as its weakest link, to mix metaphors. So all you can do is make sure that you are not that weakest link, that is, to communicate your meaning as best you can, based on how you know the other person (in this case Superman) will best receive it. But then it's still up to him to meet you halfway. You can provide the most accurate, easily-received message even by his standards, and he can still fail to pick up on it. (Not saying that's what is happening, only that it can.) In other words, if what you have here is a failure to communicate, don't assign all the blame in one place.(I'm not sure if I've added anything useful to this conversation.)