Not So Good With the Listening
Stephen and I got married young. There is no arguing that. Whether or not you think that’s a good idea is a whole different story. I’ve heard both arguments. If you get married too old, you’re already set in your ways. You know how you like things done and it throws your whole world off if someone comes in there and tries to change it up. If you get married too young, you haven’t experienced enough life. You’ll end up getting bored or realizing what else is out there and you’ll be unhappy. Well I don’t know about the first one, but as for the second, I disagree. Stephen is anything but boring! And no, maybe we haven’t experienced much, but now we get to do it together. And in my opinion, there’s no better way!
But, yes, we knew we were getting married young. We knew pre-marital counseling was extremely important. And we knew we needed to discuss all the ‘deal-breakers’ right away. (Actually, we discussed that early on in the relationship… because, really, what’s the point in wasting time on someone with different goals?) Before Stephen and I got married, we read lots of books. Some were better than others. Our favortites were Five Love Languages, For Men Only, and For Women Only. I highly recommend these books, even if you aren’t getting married. After books, counseling, and discussions with older-wiser marrieds, we found that there are three main areas that bring on conflict.
I don’t think that this strikes anyone as a big surprise. Money, I think we’re okay. We have the same goals, same desire to save save save, and are equally as excited about good deals. If I’d quit buying books and Stephen would order water when we go out to eat, we’d probably never argue about money at all! So, put a check in that box. Sex? Well that’s none of your business so we’ll just breeze past that one.
I would argue that communication is the biggest problem for most couples. How can it not be? Half of each relationship is female. In case you haven’t noticed, females are unstable (instable?). Words, tones, contexts, volume, gestures, and even pauses all have meanings to us. The simple question “What are you doing?” can be interpreted in so many different ways depending on how we may or may not interpret all of the other factors. And to rub salt in the wound, those other factors can be interpreted differently each day of the week… and, no, we won’t give you the schedule. So tread lightly, honey.
Let’s explain this further. Ladies, just think about it. We’ll put Stephen and I in this situation so that you can still appear innocent. If Stephen came home one day and said, “What’s for dinner?” There are many ways this could go down:
Scenario 1: Yesterday I took some chicken out of the freezer to defrost, I have recently been to the grocery store, and I don’t have a headache. I have a planned menu and life is good. So I respond, “Well I thought I’d give that chicken dish another shot. I know it’ll never really be like your mom’s but we can keep trying, right? Why don’t you go ahead and have a glass of wine, it’ll still be about 30 minutes until it’s ready.”
Scenario 2:I have a headache, I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer yesterday, the fridge is empty, the pantry is empty, Rookie is hungry and keeps asking to go play with Molly because I’m boring. I’m feeling like a failure since I can’t feed my husband or entertain my dog. So I respond, (please adjust your reading tone of voice for this one), “I don’t know! Ugh! I work full time too, you know. We have no food in this stupid house and I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store on Sunday because I was too busy knitting and napping. The kitchen is a mess, I can’t even think straight. Why can’t you just like soup?”
Poor men don’t stand a chance. And the honest truth is that he was only asking to make small talk. I could have said that I was frying pig feet and he wouldn’t have heard me. So, yeah, communication is a hard one. If you were sitting in our living room this past weekend, this is what you would have heard.
Stephen: They interviewed the Harlem Globetrotters on the radio the other day.
Chelsea: What radio?
Stephen: The Harlem Globetrotters.
Chelsea: (annoyed) That’s a good answer to the question I asked.
Stephen: (defensive) What?
So my marital advice? If your communication is lacking, at least make it funny.