The rules of communication as a married man
As the older married guy in the crew, I seem to always be the voice of reason or the one younger couples come to for advice. At first it felt uncomfortable because I’m no expert and I’m still trying to figure out my own sh**. But After 16 years of being happily married, I guess I have learned a thing or two about staying together and making it work. One of the most profound things that I’ve discovered over the years is the nuances and degrees in this thing called communication. When we say “communication is the key,” we aren’t saying enough. We need to be waaaay more specific. You can communicate all day, but if you or the other person are not listening then where does that get you? No where!
If you have ever talked to someone and felt that they were completely present and connected with you, then you know how good that feels. On the other hand, have you ever been talking to someone and felt like they kept cutting you off or they were distracted? Sucks don’t it? It’s even worse if you are being vulnerable with the person. I know I am guilty of half-listening and I’ve been the victim as well. That’s why I know for sure that way too often we aren’t really listening to our partner. We’re just waiting for our turn to speak. I’ve done it. I’ve experienced it. I wanted to win the argument, solve the problem, or protect my ego, and in every instance my relationship has been stunted.
Another aspect of powerful communication that I have learned over the years is “how” we communicate. My wife and I have a rule: no name calling and no yelling. On occasion, we’ve broken one or both of those rules. But, we’ve set a boundary and when either of those instances occurs, we know it’s time to take a break and cool off. It’s like the car veered onto the shoulder and hit the warning track, time to slow down and get back into the right lane.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in communicating powerfully with my wife is the fact that we have different native languages. I speak dude. She speaks chick. I don’t know how we made it through the early years of our marriage. Neither one of us could understand a word the other person was saying. She’d say, “Do you mind picking your clothes up off the floor?” and I’d hear “Get your clothes off the floor, with yo lazy A**.” “What are you tryin’ to say,” was a common refrain.
My wife and I had to develop a third language; one that honors the ways we communicate, while creating new ways of communicating together. We put more structure in place: no yelling, no name calling, no interrupting. But, we also instituted additional “best practices,” if you will: re-stating what we heard in our own words to make sure we understood what was said and validating what we’ve heard before responding. Validation is key. Validation tells you your emotions are real and true without vilifying the one you love.
Marriage, like any other relationship, is all about communication. Communication is all about listening, setting boundaries developing your own native tongue specific to your union, and of course it goes without saying, keep loving each other.
- Sneak Peek: Gentlemen Uncensored
- Episode 1: Why Get Married?
- Episode 2: Why Get Married? Part 2
- Episode 3: Sex And Patriarchy, Part 1
- Episode 4: Sex And Patriarchy, Part 2
- Episode 5: What Is Good Sex?