by Annette Bridges. ©2010. All rights reserved.
What woman hasn’t wished her husband or boyfriend could read her mind? Perhaps we’ve thought, “Just once, could he know what I’m feeling or what I need without me explaining it to him or writing him a book?”
Sorry to tell you this, my women friends, but not even Superman could read minds, much to Lois Lane’s dismay.
I spent years in anguish and agony over my husband’s inability to understand what I was thinking. The thought never occurred to me that I couldn’t read his thoughts so why did I ever imagine — or hope — he could read mine?
I knew a couple who were married for almost seventy years. The wife wrote her husband weekly letters explaining to him — in infinite detail — her feelings, frustrations and longings. I used to think it was a funny thing to do. But it seemed to work well for them. I don’t know if he ever wrote her letters.
I must admit that many years of my marriage went by before my communication skills with my husband began to improve. Why was it so hard to talk with him about my innermost feelings?
I remember many days I spent crying that he didn’t understand me. And he didn’t. But how could he have without me making an effort to help him?
Perhaps the place to get to in a marriage is the desire to understand your husband as much as you want him to understand you. I think this is the essence of the “Golden Rule.” The idea of treating others the way you would like them to treat you.
Webster defines communication as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals.”
“Exchanged” is the key word in this definition to me, as it suggests two parties exchanging — communicating — with each other.
Another definition of communication is “the exchange of thoughts, messages or information by speech, signals, writing or behavior.” From my experience, speech and writing have been more effective at getting my point across than signals or behavior.
Every time I’ve tried the “silent treatment” when I’m upset about something and go to bed in that mode, my husband just thinks I’m sleepy and he goes on to sleep while I lay there half the night stewing. When I wake him — eventually — he is totally clueless that anything is wrong.
I’ve almost always found that signals can get crossed, which then results in a mutual misunderstanding, or in other words, a failure to communicate.
Using words to effectively impart information could be considered an “art” — as another definition of communication suggested.
There seems to be an art in how we say what we want to say. Specifically, implementing the proper use of tone and emphasis as well as body language when speaking, are significant factors in getting our meaning across correctly. Without the correct usage, however, the “recipient” in the exchange could become defensive or get hurt feelings as well as totally misunderstand the meaning the “sender” intended.
I have definitely NOT mastered the art of communicating with my husband. And if there are wives out there who feel they have, I would sure love to hear from you. Tips and advice would be most welcomed!
Of course, it could be that women really are from Venus and men from Mars, so we’re destined to never completely understand each other. But perhaps recognizing that men and women have different needs and communicate in different ways is a good way to begin.
It’s probably important, too, to realize that words can have different meanings to men and women.
I heard a comedian explain this once. He gave the word — communication — as an example. He said women define communication as “the open sharing of thoughts and feelings with one’s partner” while men define it as “leaving a note before taking a fishing trip with the boys.”
Alas, without the ability to read each other’s minds, men and women may never be able to completely understand each other, but we can remember that we never will without trying. And that takes some form of communication!