Communicating During Stressful Times

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Yesterday’s post talked about miscommunication and the festering that happens when we aren’t listening with an open heart to what our spouse is saying.  Forgive the repetitiveness of the subject, but I think it bears repeating.

I can’t stress enough that communication is key to a marriage.  I’m sure that instinctively you already know it.  But maybe you’re like I was and at a standstill, unable to get real conversation going with my hubby at the time.  It’s frustrating for sure to try to talk with someone when they don’t want to talk about the huge elephant in the room that is a separation in the marriage communication department.  As women, I think we want to talk about the problems and work on them together with our partners.  But for some men, they would just prefer to allow time to heal it and not get into the hashing out of feelings.  Either way, silence isn’t always golden, but neither are harsh words.

But when a partner stops listening or a partner feels like their not being heard, they retreat.  When one partner blames the other, then animosity builds to the point of breaking any ties.  When one person becomes too busy to interact with the other, the threads that hold them together in love become strained and frustration builds on both sides.

Basically as the old adage says,  it takes two to tango and thus, it takes two to disengage.

There are those who have circumstances to which this theory doesn’t really apply.  Obviously abuse, mental/emotional/physical abuse cases are the exceptions.  Divorce for the safety of yourself, your family and all involved is necessary.  We can’t hold it together under those circumstances for too long and the rippling affect of any abuse leaks into the family at rapid speeds.  For those enduring intolerable circumstances, please know we’re all sending you love, courage and healing.

But even adultery, in all forms – emotional quasi-relationships with people outside the marriage, sex with someone who’s not your spouse, etc., are a direct breakdown of communication,  Because let’s face it, if we were connecting and communicating with our spouses, nobody would be looking elsewhere for fulfillment.

I found that in my marriage, when I said, we need to talk I was met with eye-rolling silence and suffering.  Even though in my head/heart I was trying to communicate and connect with my husband, he saw it as torturous.  I wasn’t blaming him.  My choice of words were not of the sort that screamed, YOU did this or that.  I simply asked how he was feeling and then explained how I was feeling in hopes that we could be on the same page and understand that we were both unhappy and try to fix it.  I remember even trying to wait until it was a quiet time, when we were both not stressed before broaching the subject.  But there was never a good time to look at our marriage which we both knew was falling part slowly, piece by piece.

Woulda Coulda Shoulda in hindsight, but it makes no difference now since we have passed the point of no return.  So I write this to you, in case you think there’s some hope or if in fact, you want it to work.  My hubby would never agree to marriage counseling.  He preferred to stay mute and to not share so it was only in my desperately trying to read his mind or interpret his words/actions that I received any information.  But that got old after awhile for us both.

You can’t piece a marriage back together alone.  It takes two people and even though sometimes it’s more give than take and vice versa, it’s still two people who ultimately want to stay together that determines if the marriage sinks or swims.  Sure you can tread water for years, but the eventual breakdown comes whether you like it or not.  That happened for us.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Listen carefully with an open heart and be the observer when your spouse talks with you.  Don’t judge or jump on what he says until you’ve heard the entire story because if he’s sharing, it’s respectful to listen and to be kind.  Because you want the same treatment when it’s your turn to speak.
  • Use the I word instead of YOUI feel is more powerful than You make me feel as that phrase puts him on the defensive immediately (as it would do to you if the roles were reversed).
  • Let him say whatever it is that he’s willing to share without defending yourself.  Give him the peaceful audience in which he needs to tell you what he’s thinking.  Afterwards, you can think about what he’s said and explain instead of defending yourself in an angry way.
  • Take the time in a comfortable setting to talk with him.  Don’t try to squeeze it in during the last 15 minutes of a little one’s nap or when you only have a few minutes in the car.  Make it a specific time that you sit down and talk freely without interruption.  Giving him time in which to organize his thoughts and giving yourself time to decide what you need/want to share will make it easier for you both.
  • Be willing to ask if he’s happy and if you’re feeling comfortable, ask the question that most certainly is on both of your minds, Do you want to work with me on this marriage?  Because that’s why you’re talking anyway, so you might just want to put the big question out there and see where it goes.  At least you’ve opened the door to know what he’s thinking about the marriage.

I am not a professional marriage counselor nor therapist.  I’m simply a woman who was married for over 20 years and got divorced.  But if my post can save one marriage, I’m grateful.  I sure would have loved to have saved mine, but that was not to be.  I wish you the best as always.

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7 Responses to Communicating During Stressful Times

  1. MoJo says:

    It sounds like you worked hard to try to salvage your marriage. I have struggled greatly in my own relationship at times. I imagine everyone does. But he was willing to communicate with me as well. I dont believe that we could have survived if that wasn’t the case. Your words indicate a tremendous level of forgiveness and grace. Maybe you couldn’t save the marriage, but now you can save you.

    Like

    • janieleeds says:

      Agreed. I can save me. But if I can help someone else to save their marriage or to make communication a bit easier, then that’s wonderful. I talk about divorce here, but I also want others to know that there are ways to reconnect, to heal and to maybe help a marriage which is on shaky ground. We all have our paths and there was good that came from my divorce. But it’s not what I would have chosen at the time. Forgiveness, yes. I wish him well from my heart as I wish myself and everyone else in the world. (you too dear one!)

      Like

      • MoJo says:

        I love that you embrace continuing to work on your relationships whenever there remains a glimmer of hope and you are completely right about that of course. I wonder how many marriages could have been saved if someone just kept trying a little longer and a little harder. Or even if someone just softened and worked on healing instead of focusing on blame (because that is an endless cycle). Some marriages can’t and shouldn’t be saved. But some can and should. I love your wisdom and even read your advice multiple times on how to methodically address problems when they arise. Marriage is incredibly hard at times. I know that you did ever possible thing you could. We can’t look for perfection but you darling girl do deserve magic (sprinkled amidst the reality of day to day family life).

        Like

      • janieleeds says:

        You are so sweet and kind Mojo. Thank you. I really did try, but it wasn’t enough. I can see now that my life change because of the divorce has helped me so I don’t regret it, but I regret the pain and upheaval that the divorce caused.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MoJo says:

        I’m so sorry darling.

        Like

      • janieleeds says:

        It’s ok. It’s part of my path now. 🙂 It all happens for a reason, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • MoJo says:

        I believe that more than I can tell you. Look at how many people you will help because of the wisdom you are sharing. We never know how important our surviving and rising after the moment will help another.

        Like

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