Reprinted from old blog June 17 2009.
The beauty of Sirius radio. You can drive around and listen to anything. You have choices. Last week Sirius radio gave us Dave Matthews radio for one week. I listened to this station a lot. There were live songs, cover versions of popular songs, and older songs.
While driving to work I heard the song Ants Marching which I have heard hundreds of times. The lyrics in the second verse:
She thinks, we look at each other
Wondering what the other is thinking,
But we never say a thing.
And these crimes between us grow deeper.
Hit me in the head. I said. Wow that is a day and a week in my life? This is almost every couple that I see. I have thoughts, I don’t communicate it them, and the crimes? The pain, the resentment, the hurt, grow deeper. Thank you Dave Matthews for additional inspiration!
How do these crimes develop? Is it a function of a lack of communication? Is it an awareness of who my partner is? Is it an awareness of what others couples do that we don’t? Do I look around and see how others act and we don’t? And just like the song that I’ve heard 100 times, why am I noticing this now?
These are all great questions asked by many many people that I’ve seen over the years. For each person the answer is different, significant, and ideosyncratic. One of the major crimes comitted by many couples is felony mindreading. This crime is punishable by lots of hurt/anger and resentment because my partner does not know what I’m thinking. S/he is not in tune with me; if s/he was than my partner would know exactly how I feel! Think about this: I expect my partner to know my thoughts and feelings without communication!!!! This sounds a little crazy to me, but I hear it all the time. The lyrics could just be amended to be—we look at each other, I expect him/her to know what I’m thinking therefore we don’t have to say anything, as a result the crimes between us grow deeper, but that wouldn’t sell. Dave your song is safe!!
As the crimes and feelings grow deeper, what happens to the relationship? It seems obvious—it starts to erode day by day. Communication becomes functional at best. I’m working late, I have to travel etc. Any meaningful conversation leads to conflict based on the you don’t know how I’m feeling hypothesis. How do we stop the crimes, get out of jail, and begin probation? COMMUNICATE!!! What does that mean? It means communicate how you feel, and what you think without hurting your partner.
I have a book which is entitled 15 Words or Less—all good and meaningful conversation can occur in 15 words or less. The first 2 words are simple I feel (I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m hurt etc…) Keep it short, keep it direct, say what you mean. In addition, work on eliminating the word YOU from your vocabulary. In all 50 states YOU is a fighting word! Also eliminate the absolute language always and never. Everyone is a lawyer when arguments occur. Let’s try it out:
Conflict statement: “You’re always mean to me/ you call me names /you are just like your father and your entire family when you do this /I hate this you rotten sob!”
Communication statement: “I felt angry when you said I was a loser.”
Gee—you figure out which one might be easier to respond to!!!!
If we want to end probation and live in the free world, well that’s another subject for another day. For now let’s work on stopping those crimes between us.