Thursday, August 12, 2010

Do you speak'a ma' language?


Wednesday mornings, Jeff needs to be at work by 6:45 - and this Wednesday, the boys and I needed our only car, so we piled in at 6 a.m. to get him there on time. Usually, Buttercup falls back asleep pretty quickly. This week, she felt a need to chat first; she had found one of Smeagol's Silly Bandz in her chair and wanted to give it back to him.

He took it, but she wasn't done.

"NONAH! ... NONAH!" ("Nonah"/Smeagol was busy interacting with his brothers and did not hear her - or at least did not pay her any mind.) Again: "NOONAAHH!"

So often, as we interact with those we love, it can be hard to get the message across. We have to break through the wall of daily noise, all the other events going on, that surround us. That is, unfortunately, sometimes the easiest part.

"Yes?" Finally! Her noise broke through his 20-month-old sound-block filter.

Then comes the difficult task of truly listening to what the message is:

"Wannaonebanspeas."

And continuing the effort, though it's clear that we're not getting the real meaning behind the words and it's difficult or we're frustrated.

"What?"

"Wannaonebanspeas?"

After several attempts, during which even I was somewhat baffled, the lightbulb moment came: "I want a bandz please?" She was asking for the Silly Band back.

Jeff and I have been married eleven years - it will be twelve in November - and we have, like all married couples, had some battles. Not often, never long-lasting, but sometimes big blow ups that left me unable to sleep, until we discussed and dealt with the issue. (Curiously, the loss of sleep does not seem to be part of the process for Jeff!) Over time, we have come to realize that during our most heated discussion, we are actually saying the same meaning but in two different ways. In essence, we're talking right past one another at crucial moments in our lives together.

We are committed to figuring it out, talking it out no matter how painful or difficult. That doesn't make it any easier. I have learned, too, that it is also a matter of my own attitude (as I tell the boys).

I responded to a Yahoo post the other day - in it, a woman was asking if she should keep a written tally of every time her husband (whom she was considering divorcing because she felt he was being mean to and neglectful of her) did something she thought was mean or hurtful. Why would you want to sabotage yourself that way??

What we seek in life, what we choose to focus on and pay attention to, is what we will notice most frequently. As an experiment, try looking out for only the red cars on the road when next you drive. You'll see them everywhere! The same is true for the young lady who had been married only a few years. If she takes the time to focus on, and record, his every error, that is what she'll notice most readily. I advised her to start a love journal instead and write down all the things (right down to putting the chips away after he's done eating his snack!) that he did that were helpful or that made her feel loved. In time, she should begin to notice those nice, loving things most frequently.

I try to model that for our children as well. I love their father with everything in me. He is my "White Knight" and has saved me from others - and from myself, when I've need a (ahem) nudge (or a strong push) in the right direction. I want my marriage to last. Open, effective communication is an important part of that dynamic.

It all requires effort and a keen ear, and a willingness not to go to sleep at night until the issue is resolved.

As Smeagol handed the Silly Band back to Buttercup, "Ack you!" was her chipper return.

... Then she fell asleep.

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