Tag Archives: communication breakdown

How to Declutter Your Relationships

flame throwerA good sign of when a relationship needs a good decluttering is when there is a huge communication breakdown. Are you reduced to sending an e-mail to someone who is physically sitting in the next room? If the answer is, yes, then there is definitely a problem. Yesterday while in the depths of anguish and “what the hell happened to us, and why are we fighting” I e-mailed Hubman an article called “Cold shoulder, silent treatment do more harm than good.” Bazzinga! Take that, I may suck at communication at times but I can search better than you can.

We tend to have these showdowns at the Not So OK corral when fighting. It ends up being a game of who can suffer through the isolation the longest. I always end up thinking things like ‘Bubba, I am the master of handling lots of pain for extended periods of time. Forget getting shot at, try giving birth, Rambo!’ But does not help either of us individually or our relationship.

I assume he read the e-mail because he appeared at my office door with a death grip on his coffee cup, eyes wide and asked “So do you wanna talk, or what?” Not exactly a graceful entrance, but I have to give him extra points for his excellent dismount from the high horse upon which I remained firmly seated. At least he took action. I was still pouting away in my office wondering if it was possible to drive to Mongolia and if so, how long it would take.

We started with the basics, “you interrupt me all the time!” He was mad at me for getting mad in public. (this blog) Actually I was flattered for a moment. You mean that my blog is important enough to be considered ‘in public.’ Cool! Er uh, I mean… I’m really sorry, my intention was not to paint you as the bad guy so much as I was trying to make a point about interrupting people sucks on multiple levels.” But  I could see and understand his point of view and knew that I hurt him.  I countered with “well my blog is mainly about marriage, if marriages were perfect, there would be nothing to write about.” Furthermore, I’m not good at suffering in silence. As a matter of fact I think I’m the noisiest sufferer I know. When I had my son I didn’t emit a few dignified groans while a nurse dabbed at my forehead with a cool cloth. Oh hell no, I screamed bloody murder.

So, just for the record I want everyone to know that I do love the Hubman with all my heart and soul. He is my best friend, companion, and cohort in mischief. When we are not getting, along it’s a horrible alone type of feeling that is difficult to describe. What do you do when you need to cry on your best friend’s shoulder, but your best friend is in the other room temporarily hating you?

Maybe I need a contingency plan. I need a bevy of best-ish friends. Best implies better than all other options. But I need someone to go to for help and tea and sympathy when my best friend option is not available.

Anyway, we talked a lot yesterday. I think my tongue has blisters on it.  Or that may just be that I drank my coffee too hot this morning. We talking about doing things together, traveling together, setting aside time each day to talk. I aired my grievance that so far, he has refused to go with me to a town near here and eat the world’s largest donut together.

We squabbled about the cat and then the cat litter box and took it all the way back to the beginning. Since I didn’t want a damned cat in the first place, why was it MY job to clean the litter box. That box is the very reason I didn’t want a cat in the first place. Been there, done that, scooped enough poop to last a life time.

Then we moved on to “chores,” I don’t do many. There really isn’t much to do in this department because we have a housekeeper, but there is still plenty to scuffle about. He asked why I never do the grocery shopping. My response was “there are many mornings I’ve woken early and decided to do the shopping but…I can’t …read…your writing.” It’s tiny and illegible. I even tried one time to decipher it with a lighted magnifying glass, but that didn’t work either.

Wandering around trying to match up missing items in our larder to this list doesn’t help. This whole list thing is hard for me to begin with because I never really used lists for the grocery store before taking up residence with Hubman. For me, “we need to go shopping!” = we’re out of food. For Hubman, “we need to go shopping!” = uh oh, we down to our last 50 gallons of milk. For the first 50 years of my life grocery, shopping was reserved for when there was something that I wanted to eat bad enough that it was worth going to the store for. Otherwise it could wait. I can subsist on cheese, crackers and the occasional apple for long periods of time. There are no growing children in this house to nourish so what’s with all this rush?

So we ended up airing quite a few grievances yesterday and made a decision to make more time for each other. I’m hoping we made some progress. Ain’t love grand?

Since the World Didn’t End Yesterday We Have to Continue Living.

mayan calendar

mayan calendar

Well the dreaded end of the Mayan Calendar has come and gone we’re all left with the task of going on about our lives. Yep the world is still turning, the sun is shining, and it’s business as usual.

In preparation for the world’s continuance, I’ve been reading a book the last few days. The title is “Love is Never Enough” by Aaron T. Beck, MD. He is the director of the Center for Cognitive Therapy, University of Pennsylvania. The subtitle is; how couples can overcome misunderstandings, resolve, conflicts, and solve relationship problems through Cognitive Therapy.

The book is giving me a ray of hope. I’m about halfway through the book, and it’s getting kind of spooky. One of the couples he counseled and refers to throughout the book so far, l will call them Ken and Barbie, are so much like the Hubman and me that I’m tempted to write the guy a letter and ask him if he’s been spying on us. Maybe we should get some of the royalties from the book sales.

But it is sooo true. Love is never enough, I have relatives that I love with all my heart, but do everything humanly possible to avoid their presence rather than risk my sanity or personal safety. One of the points Aaron makes in the book is that couples can descend into their own private bubble of neurosis and irrational behavior, while being perfectly capable of navigating through relationships with others outside of the wacko marriage bubble with ease and even finesse.

Aaron has many scenarios in the book where he relates a conversation with a couple in 3 columns; 1) The words they said, 2) What their tone of voice and body language says, and 3) what they are thinking. An example taken from our daily life is:

Wife: “Would you get your clothes out of the dryer please.”  (Annoyed expression, said with a whiney tone of voice) thinking ‘your stupid clothes have been in the drying for a week and half. What am I your slave or something? I bet you expect me to get your damned clothes out of the dryer and furthermore after 10 years you still act like you’re the only one who lives in this house. You treat me like a piece of furniture. You…you….bastard!’

Husband: “OK” (said in an angry tone, rolls eyes, huffs off with annoyed expression, lips pressed together, refusing to make eye contact) thinking <Insert thought here>I have no clue because I have no idea what he’s thinking and he’s damned sure not gonna tell me or probably anyone else either. Real men don’t do that. OK, I admit that I think sarcastic thoughts when pondering the labyrinths of Hubman’s mind.

charlie-brown-christmas-treeIf we analyze only the words spoken here there should be no problem. The real trouble lies in the fact that so much is said with body language and tones of voice that the words are close to meaningless. So round and round we go careening from one verbal fiasco to the next.

I’m still in the defining the problems part of the book. I can’t wait to get to the solutions part. The author swears the second half of the book addresses tips on communicating what we actually think in a way that the spouses can understand and respond without immediately escalating to DefCon 1 and all out nuclear annihilation.

So there is hope. I have to think that anyway. No wait, hold that thought. I don’t have to think that. I want to think it.

Update on Christmas tree: Tree is up, ornaments are still in boxes. They may remain there. Maybe I’ll just put my Dr. Seusse-ish tree topper on it and pretend the rest of the stuff doesn’t exist. I’m very good at pretending. That’s my stock and trade. I am a writer after all.

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