Jul 022014 1 Response

The Most Frustrating Moment of Marriage

In June of 2013 as Jenny and I were leaving on our annual vacation, I gave her a book to read while we were gone. I wanted her to read the book and for us to spend several days of serious conversation regarding our future.

Within a few months that book and those conversations led to Jenny quitting her job, starting her own company, and choosing a different path for her life. As a couple it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

Yet the initial conversation didn’t go so well.

The book I gave Jenny was $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau. Having read the book, I never thought of myself but continually thought of Jenny. She has a diversity of talents and is one of the hardest working people I know. There was no doubt she could start her own company and make a good living while being her own boss, controlling her schedule, and spending more time with family.

I believed in her and I wanted her to consider a new career.

At first, she didn’t take it that way. (See: Wake Up Every Day and Consider How to Make Her Dreams Come True)

As we sat in a small restaurant discussing her initial thoughts of the book she grew frustrated. I couldn’t figure out where her frustration was coming from. The dinner ended and when we got into the car to drive back to the rental house Jenny asked, “Do you not think I can do this?”

I nearly laughed out loud. Was she serious?

I believed in her so much, I researched tools, found a book, read it, thought through it, ask her to read it, and planned time away so we could discuss how to implement the ideas to make a new life for ourselves. No one believes in Jenny more than I do.

Yet as we talked, she didn’t feel I believed in her.

What I was trying to say was the exact opposite of what she was hearing.

This is a common story in all relationships, especially marriage. And there is nothing more frustrating than this. (See: It’s Not My Job to Read Your Mind)

When one spouse hears the opposite of what another spouse is trying to communicate, turmoil is sure to rise. Often, neither spouse understands the source of the trouble. Both believe the other is to blame and finding a resolution is next to impossible.

This type of problem is one of the most severe because the problem isn’t easy to diagnose. For one spouse, what they are communicating is so clear they can’t imagine the other spouse misunderstanding. For the other spouse, the communication is so painful, they cannot take the time to consider the possibility of a miscommunication.

The result is often a stalemate. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of All Relationship Problems)

Ironically this problem is one of the easiest issues to solve, but it is only easy if it is identified. As soon as one spouse realizes a miscommunication has taken place, a question can be asked or the misunderstanding can be pointed out and each spouse can clearly communicate their intent which ends the conflict.

However, for as long as the problem goes unnamed, both spouses will feel hurt, misunderstood, and unknown.

How many marital conflicts are truly conflicts about substance and not misunderstanding over communication?

Obviously not every marital fight is simply a miscommunication, but many of them are.

This is why the first task when a disagreement arises is to clarify each person’s opinion and what they have tried to communicate.

Never assume you have communicated clearly or fully understood what your spouse was trying to communicate.

Realize the frailty of human communication and understand that we often miscommunicate and misunderstand.

Awareness alone can solve many marital conflicts. (See: Use Hard Words Not Harsh Words)

As Jenny and I drove in the car and she communicated her feelings that I didn’t believe in her, I immediately knew I had failed to communicate my feelings. She heard the exact opposite of what I was trying to say. Hearing what she felt, I had the opportunity to re-communicate my true feelings. One year later her professional career is in a different place, but it likely would not be there if we hadn’t realized our misunderstanding.

Nothing is more frustrating than your spouse hearing the opposite of what you are trying to communicate. Thankfully, if we recognize the miscommunication, we can quickly get on the same page. Yet until we recognize it, heartache and confusion are certain to reign.

Consider the most painful thing your spouse has ever said to you. Communicate to them what you heard and how it made you feel. See if what you understood was actually what they were trying to communicate. (See: No Words Are Perfect)

 

One Response to The Most Frustrating Moment of Marriage
  1. […] But happy marriages don’t just happen. They aren’t the result of marrying the right pers... kevinathompson.com/succeed-marriage

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