Failure to Communicate
I am like the Michael Jordan of relationships, just when he played baseball, not basketball. My husband and I met at a karaoke bar, but that doesn't make for a great story, so instead, we tell people we met at farmersonly.com. It's ironic because neither of us can keep an artificial plant alive, much less farm, but it's funny and memorable.
My husband, Andrew, is a professional consultant and an expert communicator. He did not know what he was signing up for when we started dating or that I would be his most challenging client. I haven't always been what you might call an "effective" communicator.
Early in our relationship, I found this article titled "The 36 questions to fall in love". It claimed to accelerate the kind of personal closeness that usually takes much longer to create. I was optimistic until we got to question number 11, which read: Take 4 minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible. Andrew went first. When the 4 minutes were up, I was so interested in what he said that I suggested he continue. 2 hours later, he was still talking, and I was trying to figure out a polite way to exit the conversation in his living room. I wasn't sure if he was ever going to wrap it up. I kept wondering, how many lives has this man lived? Is he a cat?
After we got married, you would think that the communication between us would naturally improve, but we still had our struggles. Some people think it's so cute when newlyweds finish each other's sentences, but I assure you that my husband didn't think it was cute. I tried to finish his sentences ALL THE TIME, and he had the nerve to think I was just interrupting him. Hypothetically speaking, If I were interrupting him, it would only be because I had a better ending to his sentence, and I simply wanted the best for him.
For more than a year, we listened to country music in the car. Not because either of us likes country music, but when I would say, "babe, you can change the station," he would respond, "oh, this is ok," until one day I said, "Can we please listen to something else? This is getting old" he looked at me and said, "I thought you liked country music." We both got a good laugh out of it and then proceeded to change the station permanently.
If I summed up every fight Andrew and I have ever had, it would read "failure to communicate" The fact that he communicates for a living is not lost on me. I fully admit that it is possible. I was the problem. I wish I could blame it on my parents, but I can't. My mom and dad were married for 49 years, and not only did they love each other. They liked each other too. Or maybe it is their fault for not teaching me how to argue. They left me ill-prepared for all the fights life had in store for me.
They also told me I was brilliant often enough that I believed them and, I translated that to mean that people would listen when I spoke, and they genuinely wanted to hear what I had to say. So, I should share everything I'm thinking with the world.
I am a millennial in my defense, so I grew up with helicopter parents constantly telling me that I can do anything I set my mind to. If my husband had a stash of blue participation ribbons to reward me with from time to time, we would've both been much happier.
Andrew is part of generation x, though, the independent, latchkey kids that learned how to fend for themselves. My husband's greatest fear is what legacy he will leave behind. My greatest fear is waving back at someone who was waving at someone else.
I'll admit, I married up, way out of my league. Communication hasn't always been our strong suit, but we learned to make up for it in other ways. For example, we have mastered the bedroom. At the end of the day, when we find ourselves lying in bed and the mood is just right for some intimacy, that's when the magic happens.
The laughing that is. We spend so much time in bed, laughing. Over the years, we have accumulated several inside jokes, and we both enjoy healthy banter and a good pun, and they come out as soon our heads hit the pillows. These are the moments I treasure the most.
Thirty-six questions might be all it takes to fall in love, but what about staying in love? I know for us, having a sense of humor helps. When it comes to anger, have a short-term memory and when it comes to having fun, cherish it because laughter is the best medicine, and it will get you through tough times.
Relationships are hard work. We can all strive to reach the professional level but let's face it. There is only one Michael Jordan. He is arguably the best basketball player of all time, but he didn't win games by himself. It takes a team to win. There's no "I" in team, but there are two "I's" in communication, and for that, I hold out hope.