“Communication is the key” we’ve all heard that before but how many of us communicate effectively?
Last Sunday I woke up after my weekend lie in, I got out of bed, and was probably in a bad mood… ok, ok I was in a very bad mood…
I arrive downstairs and I look at my lounge in horror! toys everywhere, dog spread across the rug, Elliott sat in the dog bed and it starts going wild inside… I said it millions of times: Dog in the Dog bed, Kids on the rug!! hard to understand? I can try more simplistic way: dog/dog bed; kids/rug! better? It doesn’t seem to…
So here I am walking across the rug, over the dog and step on my sons toys… that hurts!
I get to the kitchen to make myself a nice cup of coffee… Sink full, porridge drying on the worktop, dishwasher still full!!! Hormones going wild, breathe, breathe, breeeaathe… feeling slightly better.
Elliott is in a “I-don’t-want-mummy” day today (as quite often when daddy is around) so after quite a few rejections and bad temper I dare saying “get him out of my sight, I don’t want him around”… Shock! Horror!! you-are-such-a-bad-mummy look coming form my husband! I am sorry to say that this really didn’t help my mood and I leave the room, slam doors and do what girls do best, cry!
I come back downstairs 2 min later and say “fine you go for a walk on your own” I don’t want to see any of them anyway (we were supposed to go together).
Then back again “I will come after all, I won’t let anyone making me feel like I am a bad mum!!”
I have time to change my mind and curse my husband a couple of times and finally decide that I will go, that’s my final answer!
Off we go and in the car. I don’t have to say that you could cut the air with a knife (translation of a French saying so I don’t know if you would say the same in English). Anyway we weren’t talking for a little while and then I started the conversation (or shall I say the argument…?)
Me: “why do you make me feel like I am such a bad mum? do you think that it is because I don’t love him that I feel this way? I am tired, need some space, spend my week looking after them and is it such a bad thing to ask one hour to myself?”
Him: “do you think I play cards at work? and when I come home I help you!”
Me: “do you think that running my business is just fun too? (well it is quite fun but shush, don’t admit it) Do you think I am playing at “I am a Life Coach” and tomorrow I could play at “look at me I am a fire(wo)man”! (Fit men in uniform for colleagues? why not?)”
Me again: “when do I get some rest and don’t think about changing a nappy, feeding someone or sitting bored in a park watching our son or pushing the swing?”
Me AGAIN!: “Haven’t you had some fun making them? Don’t you think that you deserve some of the trouble too??!!”
Silence… I won, I won (of course I don’t say it out loud)… then I start thinking… He is right, he does work hard and comes home to help me with bath time and feeding. Lately he has been doing the last feed because I was either working or sleeping, at weekends he always let me have one good lie in and does most of the chores that day, and he copes with my moods better than anyone around me has ever done…
Huge guilt feeling is taking over… I acknowledge his efforts and request that it takes back the fact that I am playing during the day!
He says: “I never said it, you did!”
I reply: “It doesn’t matter, take it back!”
He says: “ok I take it back” and smiles, I smile back…
It is so easy when you are tired and irritable to fall into the trap of the argument for silly reason. We have all done it and will all do it again.
Communication is all about mutual respect so here are are some simple rules that can greatly limit the damage:
Clear the air regularly
In a relationship there is a filter and this filter often get clogged up with some silly things such as “I am always the one taking the dog out” or “Can’t you help with the children instead of expecting me to do everything”. These are what I call the minor incidents. They don’t take much space in the filter. Then you have the much bigger ones, which can block the filter just by themselves and they are the more profound ones, they either involve your relationship with your partner or with mutual families, etc.
It is extremely important that we empty and clean the filter regularly if we don’t want the machine to breakdown… so take time to talk constructively (arguments don’t count).
Say what you want and what you need
Unless you in a relationship with a crystal ball reader, not many of us are very good at guessing what the other think and want (men or women). How can you expect the other to guess what is going on in your head?
Also lets admit it, men are pretty basic (I am not being patronising here). What I mean is that a man is practical, it is all in the action, and what seems obvious to a woman is not always that obvious to a man. Lets take this example: there are dishes near the sink and they need to be either washed or put away in the dishwasher.
Woman “oh, dirty dishes to be cleaned or put away, let’s do it right now!”
Man “was there any dishes? really? I didn’t pay attention… oh, you would like me to put them into the dishwasher?! that’s fine, you just need to ask”
Now this is how it works ladies! do not expect others to guess your needs or feelings, say it! It gains time and energy. You can ask simple think really simply. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, or anything else. If you don’t make an issue of it, it won’t become one.
If it doesn’t work after asking, say how it makes you feel. Say how disappointed or unsupported you feel. Avoid talking if you are in a bad mood or ready to shout. Always be ready and open to the other side of the story. How can you expect to have your feelings heard if you don’t hear the other’s.
Try as much as possible to talk in a positive way
Whatever the situation try as much as you can to have a calm conversation about the issue. Listen to each other and admit that you are not always the one who is right (even if us women we are pretty good at being right aaallll the time!).
If it is difficult for you to talk without shouting try this little exercise:
Write letters! Bring back to life the old letter and write how you feel about a situation in particular or about a more general issue. Keep the letter overnight to make sure when you read it again that you haven’t said more than you really think. Ask your partner to reply to the letter with his side of the story.
Make it what you wish, agree on commitments, compromises, future plans together, anything at all. This is all about you and your partner.
Whatever the situation, never stop to communicate!