Author Topic: Communication issue & need perspective  (Read 16496 times)

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Surianne

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2012, 01:42:05 PM »
Looking at the original post:

"When I got home today, DH gave me a halfhearted hug and said hi, and then he went off to the bedroom. I waited a few minutes but he did not reappear, so I went to look for him and he was laying on the bed. He said he was tired. I tried to ask him about his day and he gave me grumpy one-word answers, so I decided to leave him alone."

I don't really see the issue.  He went off to the bedroom to lay down and when you went to find him he said he was tired.  The combination of the action and telling you he was tired sound like a clear signal to me, but apparently not.  When you continued to ask about his day, he remained grumpy, but once he said he was tired, why press the point?  Tired and not wanting to talk and not being able to do a repetitive task are very different.  Sometimes tired doesn't mean go to sleep, but not interact with anyone.

I took our son outside to play and when I came in a few minutes later, DH was cleaning his gun (so I guess he wasn't *that* tired?) but he was still unwilling to converse with me. We left for dinner and we talked briefly in the car, although it's extremely hard to have a conversation in the car with our chatterbox toddler in the backseat. We did not get to talk at all during dinner

Just before he left for his xbox night, he asked what was wrong with me. I explained that his aloofness all evening had hurt my feelings. He said he was tired. I said "I know, but it still hurt my feelings that you grumped at me and ignored me." He repeated, "I. Was. Tired." I said okay, told him goodbye and said "I love you". He left without saying anything.

It sounds like you were then upset with him the rest of the night and he picked up on that and asked what was wrong.  your answer of, "I know, but ..." can translate to, "I know you were tired, but I don't really care, I just wanted you to interact with me" whether or not that's how you meant it.

I think that the signal he sent, laying down, saying he was tired was clear, but I agree, he could have verbalized it better.  I can see how you wanted more interaction, but on the other hand, if you are tired and just need some time alone, someone pressing is likely to not go over well.

That's pretty much what I was trying to say, but you've explained it a thousand times better.  I agree with everything.

amylouky

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2012, 01:59:14 PM »
I think that we all have bad days, and are entitled to "me time" when needed. But I also think that given the history with you and your DH, and the fact that your relationship mending is still in baby steps stage, and that communication and time together seem to be some of your big issues.. it would have upset me too.

When DH or I has had a bad day, we'll generally come in the house, give a quick hi, hug, and say something like "I'm going to need 15 mins of decompression time, okay?". That seems like what is missing here, your DH letting you know ahead of time that he was tired, so you wouldn't take his absence/grumpiness personally.

I second (third?) pp's suggestions of a phrase to use, and I think that you should bring this up in a nonaccusatory way when things have cooled down a bit.

Good luck!

bah12

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2012, 02:10:51 PM »
But the other thing is what you mentioned "a healthy relationship" and this one is one that has problems and they working to resolve those problems.  When a relationship is going through a rough patch, non-communication can hurt way more...and it's even more vital that each of them try that much harder to communicate so that what shouldn't be a problem, turns into a big one.

For people who aren't comfortable with constant communication and need their downtime, though, wouldn't that be equally important in a relationship with problems? 

I have trouble reacting well when someone tries to get me to talk and I'm not in the mood.  I imagine it would bother me even more if I was already feeling stressed about the relationship.  I'd feel like I was pressured to be "on" all the time and couldn't relax around my significant other. 

So I think it's important recognize the needs of both parties, and not just the one that prefers lots of communication.

DH and I have a standard rule.  When we get into an argument, he needs 30 minutes (at least) to calm down and collect his thoughts before he can even begin to start working things out.  I have a need to resolve the problem as quickly as possible, because not talking about it, makes things worse for me.

So, when we argue, and he walks off, I already know that I need to just let it be until he comes back.  And I trust that he will.  But, the reason why I know this is because it's something we've discussed before we ever got into our first argument. 

So, when I say communicate, I don't mean talking all the time.  It could be as simple as saying/writing one time "this is how I react to these situations and this is what I need." Then it's up to the other partner to respect that...and vise versa.   And if I already had some prearranged agreement with my DH and then, through no fault of his, didn't feel like I could follow-through, I think it's ultra-important to say something.  I can't possibly expect him to understand that if I choose not to spend some pre-arranged time with him, that he'll automatically know it's not about him, unless I tell him.

Surianne

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2012, 02:23:47 PM »
That seems like a fair arrangement, bah12, and I think your point makes sense. 

I'm guessing the husband thought he *was* communicating by saying "I'm tired" and felt like the OP was just nagging him -- I'm very similar personality-wise to the husband, I think, so that's likely how I would have behaved in the same situation. 

I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

What I worry about is the assumption that the person who wants to communicate more is always the *right* one, and more communication is always best.  Whereas to my mind, it's not that simple.  When someone wants me to communicate more without being specific or giving me a break, it makes me more stressed out, not less.

CakeBeret

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #34 on: February 21, 2012, 02:35:30 PM »
I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

I think where we're diverging is the phrase "I'm tired." To me, it is a simple statement of fact and means nothing more. To you, it means "I need space; please leave me alone." I'm a literal person and I often don't "get it" when a person says one thing and means another. If he's laying on the bed and saying he's tired, I'm going to think that he's tired, but I am not going to understand that that means he wants to be left alone unless it's spelled out for me. Tired does not automatically exclude conversation, in my mind.
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."

Surianne

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #35 on: February 21, 2012, 02:36:32 PM »
I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

I think where we're diverging is the phrase "I'm tired." To me, it is a simple statement of fact and means nothing more. To you, it means "I need space; please leave me alone." I'm a literal person and I often don't "get it" when a person says one thing and means another. If he's laying on the bed and saying he's tired, I'm going to think that he's tired, but I am not going to understand that that means he wants to be left alone unless it's spelled out for me.

Yes, which is why I think the code phrase idea is a good one, since "I'm tired" doesn't work for you.

bah12

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #36 on: February 21, 2012, 02:55:02 PM »
I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

I think where we're diverging is the phrase "I'm tired." To me, it is a simple statement of fact and means nothing more. To you, it means "I need space; please leave me alone." I'm a literal person and I often don't "get it" when a person says one thing and means another. If he's laying on the bed and saying he's tired, I'm going to think that he's tired, but I am not going to understand that that means he wants to be left alone unless it's spelled out for me.

I think it's also when he said "I'm tired".  He disappeared into the bedroom and the OP assumed he would come back out.  If he had said "I'm tired" when he hugged her hello, then she would have known he wasn't coming back out. 

She basically had to disturb him to find out that he wasn't coming back out of the room to have their time together.

So, if they had a signal, or some other agreement, ahead of time, then I agree it would work a lot better.  What he communicates is just as important as when...and how.  So, if he said "I'm tired" in an agitated tone, because she disturbed his rest, then that just compounds the problem.

Yes, which is why I think the code phrase idea is a good one, since "I'm tired" doesn't work for you.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2012, 03:37:43 PM »
Quote from: CakeBeret


--- Quote from: Surianne on Today at 01:23:47 PM ---I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

--- End quote ---

I think where we're diverging is the phrase "I'm tired." To me, it is a simple statement of fact and means nothing more. To you, it means "I need space; please leave me alone." I'm a literal person and I often don't "get it" when a person says one thing and means another. If he's laying on the bed and saying he's tired, I'm going to think that he's tired, but I am not going to understand that that means he wants to be left alone unless it's spelled out for me. Tired does not automatically exclude conversation, in my mind.

Well, now you know what "I'm tired" means to him, so I think it's a good idea to take that cue in the future. As well, going into the bedroom away from you and your son was another clue that he was giving you (as it was different from his normal routine, it seems), and now you also know that that is a cue you need to take. He's doing a lot of changing and adjusting in terms of your agreement right now, and this is one area it seems you can adjust to his needs and learn to fit him better.
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

WillyNilly

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #38 on: February 21, 2012, 03:55:24 PM »
I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

I think where we're diverging is the phrase "I'm tired." To me, it is a simple statement of fact and means nothing more. To you, it means "I need space; please leave me alone." I'm a literal person and I often don't "get it" when a person says one thing and means another. If he's laying on the bed and saying he's tired, I'm going to think that he's tired, but I am not going to understand that that means he wants to be left alone unless it's spelled out for me. Tired does not automatically exclude conversation, in my mind.

But you need to own that as your failing, not his.  Because to most people, saying "I'm tired" and going into a separate room and laying down, is a very clear, concise communication of "I need some alone time because I'm weary at the moment."  You don't have to get that as your way of thinking, but you have to own that its you who's not getting it, not him who is not communicating. 

Talking is exhausting.  Especially answering questions talking.  He was tired.  Not sleepy per say, but tired.

I have read the other thread.  But I have to say if this situation is indicative of a sample slice of your lives together, you might want to consider that he might find you overbearing.  This could be a one off for sure, but if this was a normal thing - you following him and questioning him when his body language is being very clear and then his verbal language is backing it up, you need to take some responsibility.  I felt a bit stifled just reading the OP, and I'm very much a talker.  But everyone needs a moment every now and then.

CakeBeret

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2012, 04:41:51 PM »
I really like the suggestions (from quite a few posters)  to come up with a longer "code phrase" if "I'm tired" isn't clear enough for the OP.   

I think where we're diverging is the phrase "I'm tired." To me, it is a simple statement of fact and means nothing more. To you, it means "I need space; please leave me alone." I'm a literal person and I often don't "get it" when a person says one thing and means another. If he's laying on the bed and saying he's tired, I'm going to think that he's tired, but I am not going to understand that that means he wants to be left alone unless it's spelled out for me. Tired does not automatically exclude conversation, in my mind.

But you need to own that as your failing, not his.  Because to most people, saying "I'm tired" and going into a separate room and laying down, is a very clear, concise communication of "I need some alone time because I'm weary at the moment."  You don't have to get that as your way of thinking, but you have to own that its you who's not getting it, not him who is not communicating. 

Talking is exhausting.  Especially answering questions talking.  He was tired.  Not sleepy per say, but tired.

I have read the other thread.  But I have to say if this situation is indicative of a sample slice of your lives together, you might want to consider that he might find you overbearing.  This could be a one off for sure, but if this was a normal thing - you following him and questioning him when his body language is being very clear and then his verbal language is backing it up, you need to take some responsibility.  I felt a bit stifled just reading the OP, and I'm very much a talker.  But everyone needs a moment every now and then.

You do have a point. I guess I have a hard time interpreting his nonverbal cues, and determining what "means something" and what doesn't. If he's in the garage with the radio blaring, sometimes that means he wants to be left alone and sometimes that just means he found something interesting to do but doesn't mind me joining him. When he lays down in the bedroom after work--and it happens a few times a month, I think--sometimes he invites me to lay down with him and talk. I have no way of knowing without talking to him. And once I determined he didn't want to talk, I left him alone. I didn't press him for conversation all evening, figuring he'd talk to me if/when he felt like it.
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CakeBeret

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #40 on: February 21, 2012, 04:58:11 PM »
So, would it be better to ask if he wants to be alone, or just assume that he does? How can I improve on reading these cues better?
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WillyNilly

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #41 on: February 21, 2012, 05:07:49 PM »
Quote
When I got home today, DH gave me a halfhearted hug and said hi, and then he went off to the bedroom. I waited a few minutes but he did not reappear, so I went to look for him and he was laying on the bed. He said he was tired. I tried to ask him about his day and he gave me grumpy one-word answers, so I decided to leave him alone.

You do have a point. I guess I have a hard time interpreting his nonverbal cues, and determining what "means something" and what doesn't. If he's in the garage with the radio blaring, sometimes that means he wants to be left alone and sometimes that just means he found something interesting to do but doesn't mind me joining him. When he lays down in the bedroom after work--and it happens a few times a month, I think--sometimes he invites me to lay down with him and talk. I have no way of knowing without talking to him. And once I determined he didn't want to talk, I left him alone. I didn't press him for conversation all evening, figuring he'd talk to me if/when he felt like it.

Perhaps this is an oversimplified answer here... but have you tried with simply opening with "hey - in a mood to chat?"  If he hesitates or is wishy-washy, well that's not great but probably means "no" but hopefully he'll just answer "sure!" or "actually I'm tired" or "I'm in a groove here" or something that says "my mind is actually somewhere else right now".  I do this with DF - I do in fact often follow him into the bedroom when he gets home from work even.  But I always start with asking if he's ok to chat.  Sometimes he says "whats up?" which clues me in he's ok for listening, but not really talking too much, sometimes he launches into something about his day, and sometimes he says "it was a tough one, give me a moment" and I wander off and fix dinner or pick up a magazine and wait for him to be ready for conversation.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #42 on: February 21, 2012, 05:13:10 PM »
I wouldn't put him in the position of having to say no and feeling guilty (if I'm reading your interactions correctly). I'd just simply leave him alone in those situations.

When he invites you in to lay down with him and talk, take him up on it, if you're feeling up to it as well - but let him take the lead on it. If it's a garage thing and he doesn't invite you, I'd try to look for clues that are the difference between when he invites you in and when he wants to be alone (Is it a certain kind of project? Does he go in there alone after a certain stressor? Certain music to indicate his mood?)

If you really cant tell, just ask, with no guilt tripping, and with no emotion or expectation behind it. "Hey, that looks like an interesting project. Mind if I join you for an hour or would you prefer to work alone right now?" and then accept his answer. 
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning. - Maya Angelou

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

whatsanenigma

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #43 on: February 21, 2012, 05:36:05 PM »
I wouldn't put him in the position of having to say no and feeling guilty (if I'm reading your interactions correctly). I'd just simply leave him alone in those situations.

If you really cant tell, just ask, with no guilt tripping, and with no emotion or expectation behind it. "Hey, that looks like an interesting project. Mind if I join you for an hour or would you prefer to work alone right now?" and then accept his answer.

I like this idea, especially if you can work out a good way to phrase it so he doesn't have to say the word "no".  You could say something like "Are you up for a chat now or would you rather wait until [after dinner, after you finish the project, after the little one is asleep, whatever is applicable]?"  Or even, "Hey, I'll be [place] doing [thing], when you get in the mood to chat come let me know."  I don't know if that would help or not, but personally I like to phrase questions in a way that lets the other person communicate "no" without  saying the word-it just seems to be less guilt trip inducing or pushy, IMHO for what it's worth.

Also, I just wanted to comment about use of the word "tired".  I have read a good description of introverts versus extroverts as the difference in how a person gets energy.  An extrovert gets energy from being around people and gets tired when alone.  An introvert is the opposite, and gets energy from being alone while being around other people causes tiredness.   This does not necessarily have anything to do with how enjoyable the person finds the experience of being around people or a certain person.  It's about where the energy comes from.

The reason I say that is because to an introvert, to say "I am tired" really does mean in many cases "I need alone time to recharge my batteries, nothing personal."  It doesn't necessarily mean "I am tired and need to lie down or go to sleep".  So if he is playing a computer game or cleaning a gun or whatever, that doesn't necessarily mean he's "not too tired" to do those things but "too tired" to interact with you-it could mean that he's "too tired" to be around any people and just being alone is making him not as tired.

Having said that, it does seem to be a problem to me that he seems to react as though this is your fault.  Hopefully this is a thing where you can keep communicating and it will come around to it really being nobody's "fault", nobody is "right" or "wrong", it's just a communication difference that you can resolve, so you both can understand each other's communication of love for each other.

Surianne

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Re: Communication issue & need perspective
« Reply #44 on: February 21, 2012, 06:00:38 PM »
Also, I just wanted to comment about use of the word "tired".  I have read a good description of introverts versus extroverts as the difference in how a person gets energy.  An extrovert gets energy from being around people and gets tired when alone.  An introvert is the opposite, and gets energy from being alone while being around other people causes tiredness.   This does not necessarily have anything to do with how enjoyable the person finds the experience of being around people or a certain person.  It's about where the energy comes from.

The reason I say that is because to an introvert, to say "I am tired" really does mean in many cases "I need alone time to recharge my batteries, nothing personal."

Yes!  I'm an introvert and this completely describes me.

Something like WillyNilly's or DigitalPumpkin's suggestions* to ask "Up for chatting, or in the mood for some alone time?" before joining him would work well with me, because you're giving me an option without any form of pressure or guilt, which would make it easy to say "Actually I'm wiped and need to be alone for now.  I'll come say hi when I've got my energy back."

Of course I can only speak for myself, so I'd suggest talking to him directly about what he prefers, but I think their posts make for a great start.

*yikes, grammar has failed me tonight