28 Mar Talking it Out
My husband and I were seated side by side. It was late in the evening and I still hadn’t had the opportunity to talk with him. He had been traveling recently and I had a whole back-log of events and/or items that I wanted to discuss with him. We were both tired and the conversation didn’t happen. I went to bed feeling frustrated that we didn’t communicate. I knew that with a busy schedule over the next few days and weeks that our chances to talk would be minimal. I wasn’t happy about this.
A few months back during another particularly busy time at my husband’s work, I carved out time each day where we had a ‘date’ to talk. While I appreciated that my husband would attempt to give me his full attention, the conversations felt kind of forced. I found that when he did focus in on me, my mind went blank. I wasn’t faring well under the pressure and the stilted cadence of my talking as my brain frantically searched for words felt unsatisfactory to me.
I realized a few things about our communication disconnect. My husband is perfectly happy with how much we do or don’t talk. His idea of meaningful conversations are often much different from mine. His: sports, our boys, our boys and their sports. Me: relationships (this includes our boys), how the world treats me, how I respond to the world, how I feel about the world, spirituality and sports. Whenever I tell him we ‘need to talk more’, the reality is, ‘I need to talk more.’ When we met and were dating, he was a man of few words. Trying to have a phone conversation with him was excruciating. I knew these things about him and married him anyway. Basically, changing who he fundamentally is as a communicator is out of the question at this point. Who does that leave to change? Me.
I came to the brilliant conclusion that I was no longer going to force conversations with him. If they happened great, if they didn’t, then I needed to figure out a way to meet my communication needs without talking to him. I told my husband this not once, but twice and on two separate occasions. By the second time he was kind of over the fact that we had to keep talking about not talking. Trust me, I saw the irony in this.
Here are some of my solutions to meet my communication needs. I am going to try to schedule more time with friends. I am going to write more. Writing is an awesome way for me to process through my thoughts and feelings and I can do this any time or any place. I am going to accept that sometimes I have a thought or feeling that will go unexpressed. I am going to learn to sit with whatever I am thinking or feeling and try to process through it on my own. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even learn that I won’t have nearly as much to talk about as I initially thought.
In addition to all these proactive steps, I am going to work on being a better partner to my husband. In an article from ‘O’ The Oprah Magazine written by Barbara Graham, she cites the work of two authors, Pat Love and Steven Stonsy, who posit that it isn’t the talking in a relationship that is important, it is the bonding.
“Everyone—men, women, myself included—needs to learn that before we communicate with words, we need to connect nonverbally. We can do that in simple ways, through touch, sex, doing things together. The deepest moments of intimacy occur when you are not talking.”
Stonsy puts it this way: “We need to stop trying to assess the bonding verbally and instead let the words come out of bonding.” Interestingly, he adds, “When couples feel connected, men want to talk more and women need to talk less, so they meet somewhere in the middle.”
You can read the entire article by clicking here:
At the end of the day I must come to honor that my husband is not a big talker. He has so many other wonderful qualities like loyalty, integrity, being a hard worker and having a sly sense of humor, that maybe if I turn my attention to these instead, I will be able to let the not-talking-so-much part go.
After nearly twelve and half years of marriage, it’s about time, don’t you think?
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent