4 Simple Things to Work on For a Healthy Marriage (Part 2 of 4)

So being Honest and building Trust with our partner is important. But how can you do those things without working on your Communication?

Communication

There are so many ways communication can break down between two people:
  • Is there a language barrier?
  • Even if you speak the same language, are you both speaking the same words and share the same meanings? 
  • Do you have different upbringings that make talking about certain topics difficult?
  • Do you listen better when someone is speaking with a certain tone? Certain pitch? Certain speed? With certain body language?
  • What about your partner? How does your partner like to communicate? 
  • Is she a texter? 
  • Is he a talking machine? 
  • Does she think out loud? 
  • Does he show his emotions on the outside or hides them on the inside? 
  • Is she a literal person? Or does she prefer to read between the lines? 
  • How well can you read each other if you didn't speak? Only texted? Or signed? 
  • How well can you read each other if you only talked on the phone?
My husband and I have a very similar upbringing so culturally we aren't too different. We were both born and raised in Vancouver and our parents are immigrants from Hong Kong. 

We don't have a language barrier. I can vent to him about my challenges growing up and how it's shaped me as a person and he completely understands. We create Chinglish words to express ideas and topics that can't be explained in either English or Chinese. 

So we have that going for us.
However, we are still 2 very different people. I have my way of communicating and how I like to be communicated to.  And he has his way of communicating and how he likes to be communicated to. 

We make an effort every day to communicate effectively with one another. It's not easy to do but it's not complicated either. 
The bottom line is to always keep in mind that just because you know someone for so long, they can NEVER read your mind (unless...?)
Through many conversations (and ongoing ones), we've learned a lot about each other and ourselves.

My husband is a talker. He likes to think out loud. He's an extrovert. He sometimes says things without a filter. He often likes to process information externally and will interrupt me mid-sentence to confirm his thoughts by asking questions or filling in what he thinks I am going to say. His mind races and jumps around from thought to thought...A to C to F back to B. He's not a big context guy so I sometimes can't follow when he shares a story. 

As a listener, he's not focused on my words. He's sensitive to the delivery of them. He is driven by his physical senses. The pitch and tone of my voice and my body language really affects how he responds to me so I try my best to communicate in a calm manner. 

I'm not as much of a talker as he is. I am often conversing with my own thoughts. If you don't know already, I'm an introvert. I am more about the words. I am a technical listener and I take words to my heart, whether you are yelling them at me across the room or whispering them to me on the couch. In fights, I like to quote his words against mine because I remember what he says. I speak with a naturally condescending tone when I'm upset. 

I think logically and I speak with a process. I like to provide context and I don't like to make assumptions about what other people may already know. I can be painstakingly detailed when painting the picture which makes me a natural storyteller. 

He has learned to interrupt me less when I'm sharing a story and I've learned to be more patient with him when he does. I've learned to ask questions in a curious tone when he hasn't provided me context and he's learned to cue himself to think about the words he is using. 

We both prefer to talk to each other than text. We do texts during the work day when we are apart but once we are at home, we try to have a conversation with eye contact (well...as much as we can without having the toddler start a fire).
  
I’ll give an example of a recent ‘fight.’

We've been wanting to renovate our basement for the past year. It's been an ordeal and I won't get into details. My husband has taken the lead in planning the entire project.  

Anyway, it's the day before the contractor comes in and my husband has spent days cleaning and prepping the basement. He asks me to come look at it. 

We take a brief tour and I say (in an over-the-top enthusiastic tone) to him, "Wow, what an exciting project for you. You're gonna have so much fun doing this."

He looks at me and says, "Uh...it's been a headache planning this the past year. I'm doing this for us and it's not my project. It hasn't been fun. It's not going to be fun. It's not like you were going to do anything about our basement. I know you don't care about it but don't say it like that."

So I stop and think. I think about the words I wanted to say at the moment.My first instinct was to react immediately to his words, to delve into the flaws of his character, making assumptions about what he said. 
What do you mean I don't care? While you're planning this project, I was also busy doing things for the house. You wouldn't have let me do this anyway because you're so particular about everything....blah blah blah.
However, I don't. 

Instead, I take a minute to process how he expressed himself, what his intention was and what he expected from me as a reaction when he wanted me to look at the basement the day before the renovations started. I think about how I reacted.

I respond calmly, "Yeah, you're right. I should have said I appreciate you for you doing this for us. She's going to have a pretty cool basement to play in. It looks like it's going to be a lot of work but you've done so much already and I think it's going to be great."

So Readers, have you ever taken a moment to think about how you communicate and how you like to be communicated to? Does your partner know this? What are their preferences?


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