Throughout history miscommunication has led to some terrifying consequences. It’s caused planes to crash, ships to sink, and on more than one occasion, it put us on the brink of war. There’s no telling how many divorces its responsible for but it sure played a part in my divorce. I never thought I would get married again but turns out I was wrong, a few years ago Andrew and I tied the knot and we are killing it! You know that one question that every couple gets asked at least a dozen times, the awe where did you two meet? Most of my husbands generation would be too embarrassed to admit they met online so they say they met at a bar, and they would consider that the safer choice. Well, my husband Andrew 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. a reasonable option for my generation. It is ironic though because neither of us can keep an artificial plant alive, much less farm.
Now that I’ve let you in on the little secret that we are high class karaoke farmers you may be wondering what that has to do with communication so let me tell you. Farming goes hand in hand with country music. Stay with me now. The entire first year that Andrew and I were together we listened to country music in the car. Not because either of us liked country music but when I would say “babe, you can change the station he replied, nah, this is alright.” Until one day, I reached my breaking point and using my best mom voice announced “I can’t take it, we are changing the station” Andrew looked at me and said, “it's about time” It was at that moment, his life began to flash before my eyes. Some might consider this bad communication.
Now, we’ve all had good conversations. We know what that feels like. When you walk away feeling engaged and understood. That wasn’t Andrew and I, for us, it was an uphill battle.
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 and 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? Let’s face it, no one cares about the date or what day of the week something happened on or what song was playing on the radio or what color shirt you were wearing. It’s conversationally exhausting and boring. Moral of the story, be brief.
For a while I thought Andrew set out to be my future ex-husband.
If I summed up every fight we’ve ever had, it would read "failure to communicate". Our happily ever after didn’t begin until we learned how to have better conversations. Let me just say that when it comes to learning to communicate effectively, not all advice is good advice. For example, mirroring where you repeat back what you heard the other person say, or maybe you’ve heard that you should nod your head and say uh huh to show you are engaged. You can go ahead and just forget all that, because its crap. There is no reason to learn how to show you are paying attention if you are in fact paying attention.
After we got married, you would think that our communication 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 simply wanted the best for him.
Once I stopped interrupting and started listening, the most amazing thing happened. I figured out that he is a really interesting guy!
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, that's when the magic happens. The laughing, that is. We spend so much time in bed, laughing.
Before Andrew came along, I was like the Michael Jordan of relationships, just when he played baseball, not basketball. 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.
Make it a partnership. Remember to be brief, and listen without interrupting and most importantly, remember that laughter is really good medicine. Doing those three things might not keep a plane in the sky, or keep a ship afloat, or even prevent a war but you might stay married and for what its worth, you’ll definitely have better conversations.