Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Little Advice on Valentines Day

Just the other day Hubby and I were talking about this, and he commented what a helpful thing it is in our marriage, so I thought I would share it with you. At my bridal shower I was given a CD set that had a series (I think 4) speeches directed to young couples. I cannot remember the speaker's name, and a lot of his advice was stuff I've heard elsewhere--talking about different love language styles and that sort of thing. But somewhere in there he made a recommendation that we took to heart. It's very simple, but very far-reaching:

Always take each other's words at face value.

That's it.
No subtext, no need to try to interpret what the other person meant, just always take each other's words at face value.
So, for example, if my husband asks me a question "would you like to go to a movie tonight?" or "is it cool if I go out with my friends tonight?" or "are ya feelin frisky?!" then I could answer "yes!" or I could answer "[sigh] yeah, [sniff] sure" and the answer is the same. If I said yes, then he can take it as yes, and it doesn't matter how I said it. AND, if he wants to go out with his friends, and I say sure, then he can go out and not feel guilty. If I don't want him to go, I'd better actually say that I am tired and don't feel up to taking care of the kids alone tonight and could he go another night, or at least help with bedtime and then go later.
Alternately, if I don't say something, then he can't be expected to know what I was thinking. None of this silliness with dropping hints or expecting him to know what I want. I can make his favorite dinner and wear his favorite color and get the kids to bed early, but unless I actually say "hey baby, I'm feelin frisky tonight" then I can't take it personally if he settles in with his book. And I can comment about being tired and sore but unless I actually say "would you give me a backrub?" then he can't be expected to do so. Sure, he might offer, but I can't get upset if he doesn't, because I never asked.

The speaker in those original CDs told a story of a man who would sit at the dinner table and stare at the mashed potatoes, but never ask for them. He wanted someone to pass them, but he would not ask "because it means more if I don't have to ask." [Yes, take a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor...and then ask yourself when was the last time you expected your partner to know what you wanted without specifically saying so? Not so different is it?!]

Now I am inclined to be a pretty honest person anyway, so this has never been hard for me. I don't think it's really been hard for Hubby either. The thing is, because we have a formal agreement about it, neither one of us ever has to waste time trying to figure out what the other meant, or wondering if there was some subtext that we missed. There is no manipulation (and whether we mean to or not, a lot of us manipulate our family members to some degree). There is no guilt. Sometimes there is frustration when I realize that I really should have given him a different answer, BUT I don't get upset with him because he trusted what I said, and that is entirely fair. I just make a mental note to respond more accurately next time. ☺

Obviously for this to work you both have to agree to it, but I would hope that any married couple would be able to handle making a goal together. ☺ I honestly believe that this decision of ours is one of the things that is going to carry us through the hard times in the coming decades. ♥



Sure, we still joke around with each other, and we're sarcastic from time to time--but when we're actually trying to communicate with each other, we say what we mean without subtext or needing to interpret hidden meanings. It's very liberating. I highly recommend it.

10 comments:

nicole said...

That's so great! I think I might know what you're talking about. Is it, "For all Eternity" by Lund? He uses humor and includes a cd on love language, and talks a whole lot about what you described... "content communicating". I borrowed those cd's from a friend once, and the principles he taught really helped us to change some things, and it definitely strengthened our marriage.

Jennifer said...

Haha!! "You feelin' frisky?!" love it!!

Mommy Bee said...

Yeah nicole, I think that was what it was called. It's packed up in storage so I can't look, but that sounds right!

Mommy Bee said...

OK, i just updated the post with something that I realized i left out--the fact that it's not just about taking words at face value, but also about actually saying what we mean (rather than dropping hints and all that silliness)

TiLT said...

I'm with you on that one! Although...after a while, I have gotten sick & tired of asking for help cleaning up when the mess is right there in front of his face...but that is just a minor thing from a semi-clean-aholic :)

My hubby & I have always told each other that we will always let the other person be themselves...it's one of the reasons he fell in love with me.

Becky N. said...

That's definitely good advice. Hubby and I definitely have our feelings hurt the most when we get into that mode of "He/She should know what I'm thinking/needing right now! It's not fair! I'm not appreciated/understood!"

Is it terrible, though, to want to not have to ask, every single time?? Hubby and I were just discussing this the other night. He felt like I wasn't asking him for help enough, and I felt like I was asking too much, and not getting enough free offers. How do you find a happy medium there?

uniquecommodities said...

WOW! That is great information! Simple but powerful and true! Thanks so much for sharing! I will have to add his books to my wishlist!

Mommy Bee said...

Yeah, it's nice to not *have* to tell each other things--and it's true, we often don't have to. But the main point is that because we have the agreement in place then we don't get mad at each other over it.

Of course there are days when I'm feeling underappreciated and I get mopey about it, but I'm usually able to remember to not take it out on him, and to have the sense to just say something. :)

I never said we do it perfectly, BUT it does work remarkably well when we do it!

lynnette said...

yeah good call-- open-ness work wonders i think. i like your candid style.

storybeader said...

sounds like a good deal! I've always believed that honesty is the best policy, and it's very important to me. So when I found out my DH (grh!) lied to me, I got REAL upset! I guess it's going to be one of those times, when you have to start all over again!

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