We all know that communication is essential to a relationship that we want to flourish. But as much as we know that, why is it that so many of us still suck at it? The reality is, many of us, when we are in relationships feel like our counterparts should just know. But how in the world can someone know what you are thinking or how you are feeling if they are not you? It sounds ridiculous when you read it, I know. But the fact remains that whether we recognize it or not, this is how many of us operate in our relationships.
Funny enough, I stumbled across Couples’ Therapy one day on VH1 and was shocked how interested I was in the program. I am already weaning myself off terrible reality television, but I must say that this show wasn’t quite so bad. Though most of the people in the show that includes Joe Budden, Janice Dickinson and a couple of others, have very traumatic pasts which makes for good television, I find that a lot of their issues are really similar to most of us who think we’re “normal.” Whatever that means. In either case, what I found most interesting was the therapist urging them to say exactly how things that their partner did made them feel.
Nothing monumental here folks. Simply being able to effectively communicate how something made you feel. But you would be surprised how many of us shut down, act out, drink, do drugs or whatever it is instead of being able to say, “This hurt me,” or “this disappointed me.” We often just blame the person we are with and reconcile that they just have all these things wrong with them and never really take the time to evaluate how we add to the situation with our crappy communication.
Yes essentially by watching the show, I feel like I’m getting my own free therapy. Well, not quite. But either way. This 50 foot view is so eye opening, because we tend to recycle the same issues in relationships and so I can see some of myself in some of the characters. As I have mentioned on the blog before, as much as I have the ability to write paragraphs and pages about how I feel about things, I have a much harder time actually being able to articulate my feelings verbally. I don’t know what it is. But I tend to just act out instead of effectively communicating what bothered me. You’re looking for an example, aren’t you? Well here goes it.
The other weekend, my significant other needed to travel for a work engagement. He had just come off the road and I could tell that he was a bit exhausted and didn’t even really want to make the extra trip. And so, I did my best to convince him that he didn’t have to go and that he could clearly communicate that to the people asking this of him. Well, he went anyway because that’s who he is. When he called to tell me he was staying even later, I immediately got mean. He asked “What are you doing?” I replied “Stuff around the apartment.” Lol. Yes I am the worst. After hanging up the phone with one another, I realized very quickly that what I was actually doing was lashing out because I was disappointed that he wouldn’t be heading home. Outside of knowing he was exhausted, I also missed him and wanted to spend time together that day since he had been gone a bit prior to this trip as well.
So I had that ah-ha moment and immediately texted him saying, “I’m sorry. I am just disappointed that you won’t be home soon. But I love you. See you later.” Voila! Magic. There it was. Although my initial reaction was that of a 5-year-old, I was able to at least catch the problem before it got too big and evaluate what I was actually feeling instead of just treating someone I love badly because I didn’t get my way. And sure, maybe I am the only one. I’ll take your side-eyes. But I notice this is a pattern for me. Something upsets me or disappointments me and instead of communicating that, I essentially try to retaliate and the person has NO IDEA what’s happening.
Being able to say exactly what you feel or how something made you feel is soooooo CLUTCH! It will get you through many obstacles in your relationship! As long as we are playing the blame game or completely out of touch or running from our feelings, we will never have healthy situations for ourselves. My church has a life group where we are studying the Keys to a Blessed Life. And one of the lessons talked all about being able be gentle. In that, the Pastor in the series talked about how adults can control their emotions. Only idiots and children think that they can’t. A little harsh I know but it’s true. How many adult temper tantrums have you thrown? How many people have you cut out of your life without even having the decency to tell them why or how you felt? How many times have you stuffed down your emotions and let them turn into resentment?
Okay, again, maybe that’s just me. But in either case, we have to tear down the walls that keep us from being truly vulnerable with one another especially in our closest relationships. Take a freaking breath and a step back from a situation and say, “how did this make ME feel.” Not “Well, they did this and so, blah, blah.” Look at yourself. Be introspective and say, “When this happened, I felt ____.” You could honestly do this about a lot of things. About your past, about your parents, your friendships, relationships whatever. We have to go through the emotion in order to get on the other side of it. Going over or under it just won’t work. But I feel so good about getting to the point where I can communicate effectively and honestly, and yield the results of a home that’s not filled with strife but with love and understanding.
Are you communicating as effectively as you think in your relationships? Do you run from your emotions without taking the time to feel and experience them? How is that working for you?