When we talk with our spouse our emotions are often the determining factor in how we receive each other’s words. Did you know that emotions are habitual? So, that means that once an emotional pattern is established it is difficult to interpret each other’s words and actions without the influence of that pattern.
For example: During the first few years of my marriage my husband and I had a very hard time determining who was responsible for what housework. We both worked full time and found it difficult to keep up on the dishes, laundry, everything. As chores built up over the week it was in my personality to become overwhelmed, shut down and not want to tackle any of it. I would have been much better off if we could divvy up the responsibility and do a little at a time throughout the week.
My husband was the opposite. He could let it build up, then whip through it at the end of the week. However, not with an insurmountable amount of resentment because it had gotten to that point in the first place. So, this created a LOT of arguing and accusations. It didn’t take long before I became very defensive and developed an emotional pattern. But, it didn’t stop at housework. My defensive emotional pattern carried over into many other areas of our relationship.
Eventually, my husband couldn’t say very much at all without me getting defensive and our conversation turning into an argument.
Learn how to communicate with your spouse, sans emotions. Then you can truly start to hear and understand what each other are saying.
Emotions Work as Interpreters and are Often Wrong
Here is your best communication tip, especially when times are tense and tough. It gives you time to breathe and to think.
If he speaks, say, “This is what I heard, and repeat what he said until you get it right.”
Don’t argue. If he says no, try again until you get it right.
We all have emotional filters that keep us from hearing straight. Emotions interpret (and often misinterpret) what is said. When you speak and his response is agitated, ask him, “What did you hear?” His emotions are likely misinterpreting your point.
How do you avoid misinterpreting each other’s words and actions while keeping your communication open?