Where does spousal communication go off the rails? Usually, it’s right out the gate on just setting expectations or believing the other should just know what’s going on either by osmosis or reading the other’s mind to predict what’s next. I have said before to my husband in deadpan seriousness “Couldn’t you see it in my eyes?!!” If he truly loved me, he would be able to read my mind right?! All those Nicholas Spark’s romantic hero and Lifetime movie men just naturally speak their woman’s language. One misstep can throw me into a pity party that spirals out of control about him not being in tune with me to outright he must not care about me or love me like I love him.
Yes, the histrionics of yours truly are full-fledged Erica Cane some days. Those missed opportunities to be on the same page quickly spiral into just more “proof” that he just doesn’t get me so as misunderstandings pile on up there’s an imminent build up for a blow up. In those unholy marital moments my go to is not prayer I’m afraid to say. It’s to my memory. We can be in disagreement about an appointment or errand I thought my husband was taking care of and he responds as though it’s literally the first time he’s ever heard of it. And sometimes he looks at me as though I’m speaking the words of zulu or a language which hasn’t been discovered on his planet yet. Add in frustration to miscommunication. Well instead of working out the present misunderstanding that’s when I take to my “gift” of pointing out all of the other times he didn’t listen like this time. A spectacular laundry list of detail I might add that could even include what I was wearing at that exact moment when I told him about this “to do” along with how the weather was that day, what was playing on the radio and what I’d had for breakfast. I’m clever like that.
How do we communicate with the different chromosome species that shares our last name? Truncating brain waves or hypnotic vocal training? Nah. Guys are pretty simple and for us I’ve found a simple, simple four-step method that works for us. Find the right medium, speak up, repeat then request feedback. The only kicker? If I realize my part in keeping communication pathways open and free of frustration. So here goes:
How do we communicate with our other half?
1. Find the right medium that works for your man. Does he live on email? Does he read every text that comes his way? Is he a face to face talker? You can usually figure out what will work best for him by how he communicates with you. My husband shoots off texts as he thinks of projects we need to tackle or if a dinner reservation needs my attention. He doesn’t miss a text so I know he’ll catch what I send his way. Instead of telling him the next pediatric appointment three months out in the middle of a detailed conversation about that day’s visit I send him a text as soon as I make an appointment and say “put this on your calendar.” That leads us to the second point.
2. Realize your need to speak up for what you want and for what you need. This is another “know your worth” moment come alive. A lot of times we think we are being pushy or bothersome by being direct in what we want. However being forthright is exactly how men communicate and what they say they need from us. Direct, to the point, on task. It’s not putting your husband out by assertively saying “I need you to watch the kids next Tuesday evening as I’ve gotta get my haircut” if you know he’s fine having daddy-kid time and that’s perhaps the only appointment you can get. Hand wringing and circular talk like “well I really need to get my hair cut and that’s the only time she has for weeks, but maybe I should get a sitter or just let my hair go grey, but gosh I really need to go and I don’t know any other stylist I trust so I’m totally torn because that’s bath and bedtime for the kids and I know you’ll be tired so I’m not sure I can even go” will have his mind switched over to another topic by the fifth word leaving you to have a wishy washy dialogue with yourself. You know how your man tends to communicate with you or how he best responds to his friends or family’s requests. Is it direct? Probably fewer words than you might choose to get to the point? Devoid of details? It doesn’t make him a caveman and you any less interesting in your banter. It makes you a terrific point person for your needs and those of your family, allowing him to meet and even exceed your expectations. Win win.
3. Remember the famous marketing quote that goes something like this: Tell them once, then tell them again then tell them one hundred more times? It’s not necessary to hit your hubby upside the head with what you need, but I like to make a point of being sure he’s heard me. Sometimes it’s a neighborhood event or doctor’s appointment. I’ll follow up my first text that asked him to put said date on his calendar and then as the time draws closer I’ll either mention it face to face or over the phone as in “do you have X on your calendar for this date and time?” This has never provoked my husband, jut had him pull out his phone to confirm that yep he got it or whoops there’s a conflict now. I’ll even say “did you hear me say what I needed you to do concerning X?” and he’ll either repeat back or admit he has no clue what I’m talking about. No judgement. No anger. No eye roll. Just let’s get this sucker scheduled and knocked out. Several of my friends have Sunday family meetings or calendar oversight before the week starts to be sure they are literally on the same page. Others share a Google calendar page for family events to keep work to do’s from conflicting. Figure out what works to get you both in the same rhythm – especially before littles grow up and have practices, dance recitals, school plays, parent meetings, birthday parties and on and on that need parental chauffeurs who aren’t snapping each other’s heads off because somebody didn’t put something as a priority and now everyone is scrambling.
4. Now for the final point: request feedback. Not like a survey you give your spouse like after an Amazon purchase, although if that works for y’all more power to you. This is more akin to again figuring out how your man ticks then following up to say “now did that work for you with me texting you the car service appointment?” or perhaps “next time do you want me to just add it to your calendar or would you rather I just tell you?” Constantly checking in and monitoring how you two are communicating is important on all facets of marital life, not just errands, projects and dates. Tweaking how you set something up or telling your husband you need more than a 24 hour window for dinner out with his co-workers is actual communication to better your overall communication. And getting the bugs out of the system doesn’t allow any bitterness to harbor or resentment to rack up. Or instead it lets dramatic girls with psycho memory powers use their gifts for good and not evil.
Now only if Adam had used the four step methodology Eve might not be the first person I’m hunting down on the other side of heaven to bless out for back labor and menstrual cramps.
For other ideas on how to speak to your man with great insight on male communication Lysa Teurkherst wrote a book for him and a book for her that are short and sweet, can be read as a quick chapter a night or over a weekend. It’s called “Capture her heart” and “Capture his heart.”