Skywalker and I were talking about our families and how we realized the way we communicate is a product of the upbringing and family dynamics we grew up in. Skywalker’s family tends to wear their hearts on their sleeve, say how they feel and if angry, say a little more to add more sting to the statement. My family swallows all the words and sorrows away, say what is minimal and reads inbetween the lines for the rest. When pushed far enough, we errupt.
In chatting further, we discussed how this difference impacts me since not only do I take in what is said at face value, but I also look for meaning between the lines. Meaning that Skywalker wouldn’t have intended since his family says what there is to say (and more) taking away the need to read between the lines. The sting ends up being a double whammy for me. But this difference also impacts Skywalker in how I DON’T express everything and leave somethings for him to read between the lines. It’s frustrating and I set him up to interpret based only on what he heard me say instead of what I mean. Basically, he says things he doesn’t mean and I don’t say what I do mean. Sigh.
Frankly, neither is particularly healthy…but as we also realized, there isn’t a perfect functioning family in the world is there? It is good to speak and express openly to each other, but it is not good to purposely add more sting in your words to exact some hurt in the other person. It is also good to hold the tongue and not say words that would hurt, but it is not good to swallow the words away and expect someone to read between the lines as to what you want to express correctly. A children’s poster sums it up nicely, “Say what you mean, mean what you say.”
So this is where commitment to the marriage is applied by commiting to building good communication. To continue to get to know, understand, anticipate AND respect each other’s differences in expression. With each little breakthrough we uncover more of ourselves…and having mutual understanding will get easier with time.
What communication breakthroughs have you had with your spouse?