Many of you remember that great movie with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, A Few Good Men released (oh my!) twenty years ago in 1992. (No wonder Tom looks so young.) There is this great line in the movie when the young lawyer Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) is questioning his witness Col. Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson). The colonel thunders a question at the persistent lawyer, “Are we clear?” The lawyer replies, “Yes sir.” Driving home his point the colonel raises his voice and repeats the question with a guttural, “Are we clear?” The young lawyer this time says, “Crystal.”
Is your communication with your spouse clear? Would you say it is crystal clear? It’s true that we tend to suffer from “miscommunication” affliction. There are times when we just don’t say what we mean and then there are times when we say exactly what we don’t mean to say. We speak in veiled innuendoes and mask our true meaning, thinking that somehow our spouse will be able to unlock the code, and rightly interpret what we are not saying and what we really meant to say.
- Don’t listen to the words that I’m saying, listen to what I meant to say!
- If you could just understand me better.
- How many times do I have to tell you?
- Why can’t you just understand what I’m feeling?
Any of that sound familiar?
How about the husband who turns out the lights and gets into bed at 11:30, reaches over and softly touches your shoulder, saying, “So what do you think?” And you say to yourself, “What do I think? What do you mean, what do I think? It’s late, I’m tired and I’ve got to get up at 5:30 and you’re seriously asking what do I think? Are you kidding?” The truth of the matter is that he’s been thinking about it since right after dinner. He just didn’t say anything to you. He didn’t even hint at it. And then at 11:30 he says “So what do you think?”
Or the wife who is frantically getting dinner ready and she says to her husband, “The trash is really getting full.” He says, “Yep, it sure is,” as he walks over to the family room and sits down. She wanted him to take the trash out and he simply acknowledged that she’s right. The trash is full.
Many fights and arguments in marriage are caused by miscommunication. We somehow expect that our spouse will magically interpret what we are saying. Sometimes we act like our spouse is a mind reader, stating, “Well, you should have known what I was feeling!”
Here’s a personal growth item for the week:
- Practice clear communication.
- Say clearly what you need or what your expectations are.
- Wait till you have your spouse’s full attention.
- Be aware of your spouse’s mood, agenda, and energy level.
For example…. She says, “Honey the trash is really getting full. Would you mind taking it out for me please?” To which he may reply with a twinkle in his eye, “So what do you think?”