“Communication is the fuel that keeps the fire of your relationship burning, without it, your relationship goes cold.”
- William Paisley
I’m in a relationship. A romantic one. I've been married for five years on the 24th of this month. But what I have to say isn’t specific to married individuals. Or romantic relationships. The argument. And not just the argument, but the build-up to it. Sometimes the rage simmers and festers before it becomes boiling hot. Sometimes the rage is immediate, and the anger is instant. Whatever the case may be, or how you exhibit it, when you argue, nine times out of ten, it’s because you were angry. Do you yell, exclaim loudly, and scream until you get your point across? But once it’s over, it’s over? Or do you act as if you’re not angry, but in reality you are pissed, and then let it die out? Neither is healthier than the other, but at least in the first example, once you’ve screamed and yelled it's over and done with.
It would be a lie to say I rarely get mad. I’m a human being, I have emotions, and much to my chagrin, not everyone in the world does what I want them to do, and I don’t always get my way. Furthermore, I can’t control my husband, he has his own emotions and thoughts, that are sometimes in contrast to mine, and he can’t read my mind. Making the situation worse is that I never say what is on my mind. At least not right away. I detest expressing myself, showing any kind of emotion, and if you’re married to me, you should just GET IT. You should be able to know what I’m thinking before I think it, know what I’m going to do before I do it, and just be perfect for me. Period. Because none of that sounds crazy right? Right. *Insert Self Depreciating Sigh* Fantasy world aside, I do truly have a hard time expressing myself. Which I’ve learned in a relationship, is pretty crucial if you want to be able to communicate successively with your partner.
Not saying, that I and my husband argue all the time, we don’t, and I can’t give specifics here, because I’m pretty much the same way, no matter the scenario. Or whenever there is conflict. In most cases, the conflict is centered around something that has annoyed me for quite some time, and I’ve finally decided to speak on it. The small annoyance always leads to a bigger issue, and my husband always wants to “talk” about it. Because expressing yourself, communicating with your partner when there is a misunderstanding, and trying to come to a conclusion together fixes everything, right? Like that’s plausible, correct? The answer to those two questions is actually yes, but this is my world and in my world, it doesn’t. Wonder what fixes a problem in Page Land? Saying nothing. Committing to nothing. Expressing nothing. But expecting EVERYTHING. Expecting everything to be fixed, and my partner knowing how to fix it. Without a word from me. You need to learn by observation, not communication. Completely and totally rational. Yes, yes it is.
So typically if there is an argument in our household, let’s say, a certain someone didn’t clean their side of the room, after many subtle and not so subtle hints from that someone’s wife, there may be a blow-up. Imagining that I am the “wife” in this scenario, I’ve more than likely asked my husband to clean their side of the room politely. That husband, in turn, may have started to clean it, but gotten distracted, I don’t know by, one of three children in our house, a demanding job, CNN, Covid-19, life, pick something. And because that husband was distracted, he forgot. And a day goes by. Then another, then another, then another. And the “wife” in this scenario is looking at the mess, and fuming day, after day, after day. On the fifteenth day, said wife may have passively-aggressively brought mention to the mess on the side of the bed. The husband, recognizes his error, apologizes profusely, and begins to clean. At this point, the wife properly pacified, has received this from the husband: a response to a problem you communicated to him, the acknowledgment that he may have been at fault, in the form of an apology, and a resolution: the cleaning. No harm, no foul. But we’re not living in the real world here, we’re living in the world according to Page. No, that’s not it, there is harm, there is foul and you’re going to know it because I’m going to give you the silent treatment. I’m going to push away when you reach for me. Block any attempt you give to hug, kiss, or shower any type of affection on me until you realize I’m still mad. Because I am, still mad. Because cleaning the room wasn’t what I was upset with, it was a bigger issue. The bigger issue here is that I want you to care about how your home looks, care about cleanliness, and appreciate the fact that I clean everything. Appreciate me. I’ve only asked you to do this little thing to help me, why don’t you get that? How important my home is to me? And I’m not going to explain it to you. Remember, you need to learn by observation, not communication.
But let’s just pretend that we don’t live in “Page Land,” and we live in a world where there are different perspectives and different approaches to everything, and choosing to silently brood about everything, is not a good look. If we were to explore this land further, we may come to conclude that communication and relationships are all different. And perhaps the first step to being able to effectively communicate with your partner is to acknowledge this, that you’re different. How about being honest and open? I’ve always prided myself on being direct, saying what I mean, and never leaving anything to misinterpretation. However, I am not and have not been this way in my relationship. If I were to say what I mean and make my feelings and needs clear, it might help my partner understand me better.
Communication, the art of expressing yourself, and in turn listening, can lead to understanding, which leads to empathy, and compassion. Imagine, actually taking the time to express what you are feeling, listening to your partner, and reacting with compassion, empathy, or understanding. What kind of impact would that have on your relationship? Good communication can make you feel more connected to your partner, understood, appreciated, loved. If that certain wife discussed before had communicated the importance of a clean household, how it makes her feel calm, relaxed, and peaceful to that same husband, perhaps the arguing, undue stress, headaches, increase in blood pressure, all of these things would have been avoided.
Don’t assume your partner knows each and every thing you expect from him/her in a relationship. Let them know. Express yourself. Be open and honest. A relationship should be based on communication, not on assumptions. Your relationship will not grow without proper communication, period.
You know what happens when you assume right? (Ass*U*Me). Assumptions in a relationship are dangerous. When you make the assumption that someone knows how you feel, or that you know how they feel or think, you’re essentially playing yourself. You’re seeing things from your perspective, your value system, your point of view, all of these things are unique to you. Yes, you can look at a situation, observe someone’s actions, and note the facts of said situation by what you observed. But you will never get the full picture, if you don’t know that person’s feelings and/or thoughts, and that only happens when you ask, and then listen, what is this called? Effective communication.
My therapist keeps suggesting my husband and I read the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, by Gary Chapman. She suggested it because we are having communication problems in our marriage. Yes, I purchased the book, almost two years ago now, have I read it? Absolutely not. So just in case you’re in my boat, and haven’t read the book either, here’s a brief idea of what it’s about, courtesy of the devil we know, Amazon:
Marriage should be based on love, right? But does it seem as though you and your spouse are speaking two different languages? New York Times bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman guides couples in identifying, understanding, and speaking their spouse’s primary love language—quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. By learning the five love languages, you and your spouse will discover your unique love languages and learn practical steps in truly loving each other. Chapters are categorized by love language for easy reference, and each one ends with specific, simple steps to express a specific language to your spouse and guide your marriage in the right direction. A newly designed love languages assessment will help you understand and strengthen your relationship. You can build a lasting, loving marriage together.
She keeps advising me, that relationships are not just about communication, but also knowing how your partner communicates. I’m going to read the book. Promise. For now, she should just be happy, I’ve finally started to grasp that to communicate and make my relationship better, I need to open my mouth. Express myself. To another person. The next step? Putting it into practice. Thanks for listening