Author Topic: Communication issue & need perspective  (Read 15683 times)

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Mental Magpie

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #90 on: February 25, 2012, 10:00:46 PM »
Again, what Isis and I are trying to explain is that for some people it doesn't automatically mean "don't follow me" either.  We're also not saying that we would follow our SOs every single time, but that if we got an awkward hug and our SOs walked away, we'd follow and ask what was wrong.  There is something obviously wrong if our SOs are acting out of character, so we'd find out what it was.

Aha! I think I'm starting to see our common ground. :)

Your reaction is based on a combination of your SO's behavior and your knowledge of your SO. You two have been in this situation before, learned from it, and developed a "code." This is good communication, because actions provoke the desired response in a way that they probably wouldn't among strangers.

By contrast, OP seemed kind of mystified by what her SO's behavior meant, leading me to believe that they haven't established a protocol for this type of thing. In that case, I think it's reasonable for her DH to expect that she would take his behavior entirely at face value. In other words, he behaved in a way that would have provoked the desired response from a stranger, and was frustrated when OP chose to respond differently.

I get why she did: she has every reason to be nervous about him seeming to withdraw. But there was no mutually-agreed-upon system that dictated her actions; she was unilaterally worried that he was withdrawing, and so went looking for subtext where he claims there wasn't any. They didn't have a code, but she believed that his actions were coded, and he was annoyed.

If you want your behavior to mean something other than its surface value, then you have to either say something, or establish that pattern over time with your partner. A lot of posters have those patterns in their relationships, myself included, and it's easy to see this situation through the lens of our own habits. But the DH here just wanted his actions to mean exactly what they looked like. He went to a room where the OP wasn't, and when she followed he told her that he was tired...and it turned out that he was tired and wanted to be on his own for a while. It's not code, it's literal. So I don't agree with the PP's who've said that this was a situation in which he should have had to explain what his actions meant or set up a specific signal to indicate that he was doing exactly what he wanted to be doing--that would just be adding an extra layer of redundancy.

Whether or not him doing exactly what he wanted to be doing is acceptable under the circumstances is, of course, the other half of the topic.... :-\

Not knowing anyone's code, I would still take "I'm tired" to mean that the person did not get enough sleep or did something physically tiring.  That says nothing about their mood.  I actually think you're reading subtext into his saying "I'm tired" by saying it means that he needs to be left alone.  I guess that's the point I've been trying to make all along.  "I'm tired" does not mean the same thing to everyone, and to expect someone to know exactly what you (generic) mean by it without telling that person is irrational.

Because the OP and her DH haven't established a protocol, we can't expect the OP to know what he meant by "I'm tired" and neither can he.  As I've said a few times, it does not mean the same thing to everyone.  Walking away into another room does not also mean "I want to be alone"; it could mean I'm getting something, I'm just lying down because I don't want to sit and the couch is taken, I want to change my clothes, or any number of things.  Again, I don't think that a stranger would have been provoked into the response the DH wanted because those actions, even when combined, mean different things to different people.  The OP responded differently because his behavior said different things than what he meant it to say, so instead of hiding in context, he should have come right out and said it.  That is part of their communication problem, that he does/says something and expects her to read it one way instead of just out right telling her the way he wants her to read it.

I don't think the OP believed his actions were coded at all because again, she read his behavior differently than he intended because not everyone agrees on what his actions meant. 

Now that I've said it a number of times in this post, I'm going to come right out and say it again.  Not everyone reads those actions and words the same as is evidenced by both myself and Isis having said as much.  (I also asked Dark Mom and she said the same thing).  While "I'm tired" meant to  the OP that he did not get enough sleep, it meant to her DH that he wanted time alone.  That right there is evidence, too.  The word tired itself means fatigued or sleepy.  Why does that automatically mean that someone wants to be left alone?  It doesn't.  That is why the DH needs to say exactly what he means instead of expecting the OP to know that he means one of any number of meanings that can be taken from one phrase.
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anonymousmac

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #91 on: February 26, 2012, 10:31:22 AM »
Many people have been discussing back and forth whether the DH going to another room to lay down was a clear communication that he wanted to be left alone.

But what bothers me most about this situation isn't whether he clearly communicated what he wanted (on which the jury is still out), but that just unilaterally going to do what he wanted didn't give the OP any chance for the evening to have any part of what  -she- wanted or was willing to do.  Someone can communicate something completely clearly, and yet still be acting unkindly, and their partner can still be rightfully upset. 

(I could come home and very clearly tell my husband, "I'm tired and hungry.  Go make my dinner and watch our kids while I eat it in my room!" but clear communication wouldn't make that less awful to say!)

The OP and her husband have a general plan to spend some family time together and have dinner, and then the husband has his XBox night.  By completely ignoring her and doing what he wanted, she had no chance to say, for instance, hey I really need a few minutes to catch up with you, or hey, I'm really feeling sick and need you to take over watching our son for a while, or whatever her needs were.  He almost treated her like she didn't exist, and just went ahead with fulfilling his own needs without even doing her the courtesy of asking if she was willing to handle the results of that.

LadyL

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #92 on: February 26, 2012, 11:43:38 AM »
Many people have been discussing back and forth whether the DH going to another room to lay down was a clear communication that he wanted to be left alone.

But what bothers me most about this situation isn't whether he clearly communicated what he wanted (on which the jury is still out), but that just unilaterally going to do what he wanted didn't give the OP any chance for the evening to have any part of what  -she- wanted or was willing to do.  Someone can communicate something completely clearly, and yet still be acting unkindly, and their partner can still be rightfully upset. 

(I could come home and very clearly tell my husband, "I'm tired and hungry.  Go make my dinner and watch our kids while I eat it in my room!" but clear communication wouldn't make that less awful to say!)

The OP and her husband have a general plan to spend some family time together and have dinner, and then the husband has his XBox night.  By completely ignoring her and doing what he wanted, she had no chance to say, for instance, hey I really need a few minutes to catch up with you, or hey, I'm really feeling sick and need you to take over watching our son for a while, or whatever her needs were.  He almost treated her like she didn't exist, and just went ahead with fulfilling his own needs without even doing her the courtesy of asking if she was willing to handle the results of that.

POD. The communication issue is secondary to the "prioritizing of needs" issue. CB's DH's needs are not more important than hers. If he was totally wiped and down for the count all night it would be different, but the fact that he had enough energy for Xbox night later on kind of bothers me. If I had acted like the DH in this story I would have scheduled a dinner with LordL for the next day as an "I'm sorry I was out of it, let's catch up" gesture. We do have nights where we basically grunt hello to each other, zone out doing seperate stuff for a few hours, then go to bed - but we make up for it by interacting more the next day.

cheyne

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #93 on: February 26, 2012, 09:14:38 PM »
Reading the OP before reading the background, my thought was that DH was stressed, needed some down time and didn't communicate that well. 

After reading the 20+ pages of background, I think DH is up to his old tricks.  I hope to be proven wrong on this.

OP, I thought that the Monday Family dinner was for DH and DS at his parents home and it was your night to yourself?  It sounds like this has changed since your last post in the other thread.  Is your DH still only playing Xbox or leaving the house to socialize one night per week?  Or has that gone to more nights?

TurtleDove

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #94 on: February 26, 2012, 09:43:45 PM »
Reading the OP before reading the background, my thought was that DH was stressed, needed some down time and didn't communicate that well. 

After reading the 20+ pages of background, I think DH is up to his old tricks.  I hope to be proven wrong on this.
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Winterlight

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #95 on: February 27, 2012, 09:58:35 AM »
Many people have been discussing back and forth whether the DH going to another room to lay down was a clear communication that he wanted to be left alone.

But what bothers me most about this situation isn't whether he clearly communicated what he wanted (on which the jury is still out), but that just unilaterally going to do what he wanted didn't give the OP any chance for the evening to have any part of what  -she- wanted or was willing to do.  Someone can communicate something completely clearly, and yet still be acting unkindly, and their partner can still be rightfully upset. 

(I could come home and very clearly tell my husband, "I'm tired and hungry.  Go make my dinner and watch our kids while I eat it in my room!" but clear communication wouldn't make that less awful to say!)

The OP and her husband have a general plan to spend some family time together and have dinner, and then the husband has his XBox night.  By completely ignoring her and doing what he wanted, she had no chance to say, for instance, hey I really need a few minutes to catch up with you, or hey, I'm really feeling sick and need you to take over watching our son for a while, or whatever her needs were.  He almost treated her like she didn't exist, and just went ahead with fulfilling his own needs without even doing her the courtesy of asking if she was willing to handle the results of that.

Excellent point. He blew her off without checking to see what she needed.
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CakeBeret

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #96 on: February 27, 2012, 11:06:59 AM »
OP, I thought that the Monday Family dinner was for DH and DS at his parents home and it was your night to yourself?  It sounds like this has changed since your last post in the other thread.  Is your DH still only playing Xbox or leaving the house to socialize one night per week?  Or has that gone to more nights?

He's decided he needs 2 nights now, one for xbox and one to go out drinking with a newly-single friend. I have a different night that's my night to myself.

I explained that his aloofness all evening had hurt my feelings.
Was he aloof all evening or was it for the brief period of time you were home together before dinner and then other circumstances got in the way of the two of you spending any time together after you left the house? How did he interact with everyone else at dinner?

He was aloof during dinner as well, barely spoke to me and pretty much ignored me. He interacted as normal with his family.

but I would guess that if they've been together long enough to have a toddler together then she should know what HIS 'I'm tired' means (yes I know it works both ways)

But he's never said "I'm tired" and meant "Leave me the heck alone" that I know of. Either he's said he's tired and been physically tired but still willing to talk, or he's been mentally exhausted and expressed his need for alone time. Our bedroom has always been more of a place to hang out than a place just to sleep--we like to sit or lay on the bed to chat after work, for example. One or both of us often ends up in the bedroom after work, so going into the bedroom has not historically meant alone time at all.

ButThe OP and her husband have a general plan to spend some family time together and have dinner, and then the husband has his XBox night.  By completely ignoring her and doing what he wanted, she had no chance to say, for instance, hey I really need a few minutes to catch up with you, or hey, I'm really feeling sick and need you to take over watching our son for a while, or whatever her needs were.  He almost treated her like she didn't exist, and just went ahead with fulfilling his own needs without even doing her the courtesy of asking if she was willing to handle the results of that.

This is my main complaint with this issue (as with everything else in our marriage, it seems). He does what he wants, when he wants it, and I just have to deal with it.

PS: I hope I addressed everything that needed to be addressed. If I missed something, let me know. :)

Edited to fix quote.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 02:25:52 PM by CakeBeret »
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JenJay

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #97 on: February 27, 2012, 11:14:03 AM »
CakeBeret, he's backsliding. Bad. It's been what, a couple of weeks since he said he'd try? He already needs an extra night to go out drinking AND still feels justified in punishing you with the cold shoulder for having the audacity (sarcasm) to be hurt when he treats you badly? I think your instincts were dead on this time and that's a good thing! I'm more convinced than ever that whichever road your marriage takes YOU are going to come out of this for the better. This isn't the hugs folder, but here's one anyway! (((HUGS)))

CakeBeret

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #98 on: February 27, 2012, 11:17:38 AM »
CakeBeret, he's backsliding. Bad. It's been what, a couple of weeks since he said he'd try? He already needs an extra night to go out drinking AND still feels justified in punishing you with the cold shoulder for having the audacity (sarcasm) to be hurt when he treats you badly? I think your instincts were dead on this time and that's a good thing! I'm more convinced than ever that whichever road your marriage takes YOU are going to come out of this for the better. This isn't the hugs folder, but here's one anyway! (((HUGS)))

Thanks for the hugs. I agree he's backsliding; I felt it this whole past week.
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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #99 on: February 27, 2012, 11:24:56 AM »
CakeBeret, he's backsliding. Bad. It's been what, a couple of weeks since he said he'd try? He already needs an extra night to go out drinking AND still feels justified in punishing you with the cold shoulder for having the audacity (sarcasm) to be hurt when he treats you badly? I think your instincts were dead on this time and that's a good thing! I'm more convinced than ever that whichever road your marriage takes YOU are going to come out of this for the better. This isn't the hugs folder, but here's one anyway! (((HUGS)))

Thanks for the hugs. I agree he's backsliding; I felt it this whole past week.

I think he is too. But I also don't think that is all that surprising. It's hard to change behavior - especially behavior that was working well for you! This is something to address in counseling and I hope that he gets his act together and starts treating you better. Don't excuse his behavior, but don't take it as him not meaning he wants to change yet. He is going to have to strike a balance too and it will take a while before treating you the way you deserve is second nature. Take a long view - is his behavior overall doing better? Or is his behavior overall getting worse? That will tell you wether he is trying or not.

WhiteTigerCub

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #100 on: February 27, 2012, 11:27:31 AM »
Working on relationship matters can be taxing on one's mental capability.  I took his "I'm tried" to mean he needed some time without the pressure of 'having' to be in capacity to discuss their relationship at that time. I have certainly been in situations like that. He may be feeling resentful of having to change his communication habits 'all of a sudden' since CB brought them out into the open. Change is hard and back sliding to old thought processes is natural until the behavioral changes are habit and the true benefits realized.

Hang in there OP. I think this was a momentary blip.

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #101 on: February 27, 2012, 11:32:14 AM »
He almost treated her like she didn't exist, and just went ahead with fulfilling his own needs without even doing her the courtesy of asking if she was willing to handle the results of that.

This is my main complaint with this issue (as with everything else in our marriage, it seems). He does what he wants, when he wants it, and I just have to deal with it.

I'm so very, very sorry!  It's a terrible situation to be in, especially when you have a child together.

I have personal experience with something like this, which is why it pushed my buttons so much to hear of you being treated this way.  In my case, it's gotten a lot better with individual and joint counseling, because in the end my husband wanted to stay and make it work, but I don't have any great ideas, unfortunately.

Can I recommend the book _Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay_ by Mira Kirshenbaum?  It has a lot of good food for thought, to help you think through what's going on and figure out what you might want to do about it.

Mental Magpie

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #102 on: February 27, 2012, 11:34:51 AM »
CakeBeret, he's backsliding. Bad. It's been what, a couple of weeks since he said he'd try? He already needs an extra night to go out drinking AND still feels justified in punishing you with the cold shoulder for having the audacity (sarcasm) to be hurt when he treats you badly? I think your instincts were dead on this time and that's a good thing! I'm more convinced than ever that whichever road your marriage takes YOU are going to come out of this for the better. This isn't the hugs folder, but here's one anyway! (((HUGS)))

Thanks for the hugs. I agree he's backsliding; I felt it this whole past week.

I think he is too. But I also don't think that is all that surprising. It's hard to change behavior - especially behavior that was working well for you! This is something to address in counseling and I hope that he gets his act together and starts treating you better. Don't excuse his behavior, but don't take it as him not meaning he wants to change yet. He is going to have to strike a balance too and it will take a while before treating you the way you deserve is second nature. Take a long view - is his behavior overall doing better? Or is his behavior overall getting worse? That will tell you wether he is trying or not.

I completely agree with this.  He tried for a few weeks, it was hard, so he's slipping.  Give him a chance to pick it back up again.  Look at his overall behavior.  I know he's in the relationship negative, but if he's moved 10 points up then 3 points back, he's still 7 points ahead of where he was at the start of it all.
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Surianne

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #103 on: February 27, 2012, 11:38:05 AM »
CakeBeret, he's backsliding. Bad. It's been what, a couple of weeks since he said he'd try? He already needs an extra night to go out drinking AND still feels justified in punishing you with the cold shoulder for having the audacity (sarcasm) to be hurt when he treats you badly? I think your instincts were dead on this time and that's a good thing! I'm more convinced than ever that whichever road your marriage takes YOU are going to come out of this for the better. This isn't the hugs folder, but here's one anyway! (((HUGS)))

Thanks for the hugs. I agree he's backsliding; I felt it this whole past week.

I think he is too. But I also don't think that is all that surprising. It's hard to change behavior - especially behavior that was working well for you! This is something to address in counseling and I hope that he gets his act together and starts treating you better. Don't excuse his behavior, but don't take it as him not meaning he wants to change yet. He is going to have to strike a balance too and it will take a while before treating you the way you deserve is second nature. Take a long view - is his behavior overall doing better? Or is his behavior overall getting worse? That will tell you wether he is trying or not.

I completely agree with this.  He tried for a few weeks, it was hard, so he's slipping.  Give him a chance to pick it back up again.  Look at his overall behavior.  I know he's in the relationship negative, but if he's moved 10 points up then 3 points back, he's still 7 points ahead of where he was at the start of it all.

I agree, and I think that's a great way of looking at it.

Teenyweeny

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #104 on: February 27, 2012, 12:43:35 PM »
Ok, so I think that there are *several* issues here.

The first one is the simplest: communication. OP, I totally understand where you are coming from about not picking up on the cues of others. I'm the same way myself. One thing I now do with my spouse is to simply ask what they mean by what they say.

So, "I'm tired" could be met with, "do you want a cuddle, or do you just want me to leave you be?"

Active listening is another good technique. Repeat the gist of your partner's words back to them, and see if it's right. Of course, you don't have to agree with him, but at least you will understand what your partner's position is.  It's great for opening up a dialogue.

e.g. "I feel really neglected."

"So, are you saying that you want me to spend more time with you?"

The second one is the problem of him leaving the toddler with you. My solution to that is also quite simple. Every time he does this, he owes you 'one'. Have a chart where you can mark each time he owes you 'one'. Once he gets to a pre-determined number of 'ones', he can't have any more until he's paid some back, by giving you the equivalent amount of toddler-free time.

The last one is the hardest, and something that my partner and I struggled with: you both have a right to your feelings, and you don't get to be annoyed that someone else is annoyed. People can't turn their reactions off just because you explain why you are acting a certain way. "Sorry I smacked you in the face sweetheart, I didn't see you when I was turning round." Well, that explains what you did, but it doesn't stop the other person's nose from bleeding.