What I’ll Never Say to My Husband Again
For years, it felt weird reading articles like “Words you should never say to a man (a woman)”. Of course, there are things you hate to hear – regardless of being a man, a woman, or a child. There are many phrases we can ignore when they come from strangers, but it’s different when we hear those from people we love (Don’t they love and value us enough to be more kind to our feelings?) Anyway, in the storm of comments aroused by such articles, as men and women start blaming each other and sometimes the author, there is usually a soft voice that brings up what makes some sense: when there’s a problem, should we keep silent for the sake of not hurting someone’s feelings?
Apart from the emotional outbreaks, there is often some truth to these phrases we may dislike, some issues to be considered and dealt with, messages that you need to get across or respond to ASAP – or, at least, before it’s too late. Why people tend to make these messages so confusing, or even say something entirely different? They use phrases that take them miles away from where they wanted to get, or say nothing at all – and then complain about being misunderstood, left out, or given a cold shoulder.
After our divorce, my husband said: “You know, I wish that at some point you had banged your fist on the table and screamed, “When will you stop being such a …?” Since the two of us looked like Klitschko and Panettiere, I started laughing each time I tried to imagine that: my tiny hand tapping on the table in front of a big man to make him aware something was wrong. Still, the whole thing wasn’t that funny after all. I know I had to speak up, and even if it made my husband so angry as to bang his own heavy fist on the table, a few broken tables might have been the only things lost between us. The kind of emotional residue this has left was like a line from that Avicii song “Wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older.”
Years later, I’m married again, I’ve got two kids, I’m certainly older – and, hopefully, wiser, at least enough to know: when there’s something that makes you uncomfortable, you need to talk about it instead of bottling up your emotions. It’s not like “What you should never say” articles don’t make any sense, it’s just what you say doesn’t make such a big difference as how you say it. So I actually have my own “never say this to my husband again” list:
I’ve been always wondering whether people really mean it when they say “You never listen to me” – someone is probably listening to them at the moment, but will that person get an impression of what they’re hearing being important and therefore worth listening to with more attention? No, the result will be just the opposite. Even if you say “You never listen to me attentively enough,” and believe it to be true, this phrase won’t get you anywhere in case you’d like the situation to change.
The same goes for the “always” statements. Imagine that you are late to work again this week or month, but someone says you are always late. How are you feeling? The next time you catch yourself beginning an “always” or a “never” phrase, recall this feeling and stop. Even the chronic latecomers occasionally make it on time, or try their best to do it, and therefore will find an “always late” statement unfair, feeling defensive. When you push someone into a defensive mode, you can’t expect any empathy or cooperation. “Always” and “never” are sure-fire communication killers – if this term doesn’t sound awful enough, you can take my word for it.
What were you thinking?
Sometimes, it makes a big difference to know the good intentions behind something that hasn’t worked out – but if you’d really like to know, don’t ask in such an accusing, reproachful manner. Things don’t always go as planned, and there are moments when even the best and repeatedly tested methods don’t produce the usual results – which has nothing to do with our expectations. How would you like being blamed for the factors you weren’t able to control or change, when you could use some help instead?
Read also – 7 Sure Signs You’re in a Healthy Relationship
I will do that only if you…
Any relationship is a two-way street, right? The terms such as “mutual trust” or “mutual understanding” also may sound like they mean “You do something for me, and I do something for you”. However, it’s very unhealthy to turn your communication into constant bargaining and charging each other for something. While it’s easy to slip into mutual demands and accusations, your relationship is safer if you opt for a different attitude than the “me-to-you” thing: “we do it together so that we…”
Last but not least, here come those “uh-huh,” ”duh,” and “meh” things that may have seemed so funny in cartoons. True, everybody is using them, so you think it’s no big deal. It’s probably not, if you don’t answer often in such one-syllable grunts, but if that’s your usual style of communication, then lack of attention will be an issue in your relationship, whether your spouse complains about it or not. This problem tops the list of complaints today, which is not surprising in our iPhone-equipped, Internet-obsessed world. We believe we just have so many things to do or check, and so little time to talk, to discuss something other than household or financial issues.
It is important to find that time, or at least to show your interest by taking a short break from TV and Internet browsing when your spouse asks something. The silence, ignorance, short utterances that are a sign of your attention belonging elsewhere… may be worse than any kind of statements, and can hurt deeper. With technology eating away our family time in large portions, you can often find advice about unplugging or disconnecting for some time – and it makes sense if a part of your day needs to be ring-fenced so strictly to be spent with your family or spouse.