Miscommunication: We’ve All Been There
“I told you about this weeks ago,” she says.
“Phew,” he shakes his head in disgust, “You never told me about this. You often talk to yourself and think you told me, but you didn’t ever say this aloud to my face.”
She responds with wonder, “I know I told you—we were in the dining room, and it was raining outside at the time. Don’t you remember?”
“No, I don’t remember because you didn’t tell me,” he says angrily. “And now they are coming when? Why do you have to keep pulling these surprises on me?”
Learning to Live Together
These kinds of conversations can really hurt a marriage—or a group, if you are co-housing, or hunkered down together for a while. If that conversation, or some other version of it, sounds familiar to you, please read on.
The people above may really love each other, but these simple miscommunications get between them, causing them real pain and confusion.
Hopefully, they have ways to reconcile with each other.
Read More: “She Plants, I Cook—Thoughts on Sharing the Workload”
Reconciling Your Differences
What if you could cut down on the number of incidents like this in your relationship and get to the point where these conversations are only a rare event? Wouldn’t that be great?
And what if, instead of reconciling, you could focus on enjoying each other more?
I’ve got good news for you.
There is a really simple technique that is super-effective. (You are probably going to laugh when I tell you this.)
Take Time to Get on the Same Page
It’s simply this: Every Monday morning, take 5 minutes together with both of you and your calendars. Discuss what is planned for each of you and the family for the week.
A fly on the wall might hear something like this:
- “I’ve got an important phone call with Roger at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday.”
- “The kids want to have a party here on Saturday night with the Scout group.”
- “Remember, you’ve got a dental appointment on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. with Dr. Buscher.”
And so on.
It really only takes a few minutes, and both of you come away knowing what is in store for the week.
No surprises. (Or only a few genuine ones!)
Self Help that Actually Helps
My friend’s husband is one of those who is quick to pooh-pooh “New Age psychobabble crap,” and “seminar techniques BS.” So when she wanted to try this out, she didn’t say anything about it. She just started one Monday morning and said, “Hon, can I spend a few minutes with you?” They did the schedule update together and got on with the week.
The following week, she did it again.
And then again. And soon it was a habit.
And then one day, they noticed that they hadn’t had that “you didn’t tell me” conversation for a long time, and things were just that much smoother in their relationship. She pointed out that the reason they were doing so much better with communicating was because of the routine on Mondays.
Her husband looked surprised.
Was his surprise at how effective such a simple thing could be?
Or was he surprised to realize she had intentionally set this up?
I don’t know.
Regardless, he agreed that it was a good thing.
She never mentioned that, yes, she had learned it in a seminar. And it was one of those seminar techniques.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever tried something like this with your partner? How has it worked for you? Got any good stories to share? Let me know in the comments!
(This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on July 18, 2014.)
Marjory Wildcraft is the founder of The Grow Network, which is a community of people focused on modern self-sufficient living. She has been featured by National Geographic as an expert in off-grid living, she hosted the Mother Earth News Online Homesteading Summit, and she is listed in Who’s Who in America for having inspired hundreds of thousands of backyard gardens. Marjory was the focus of an article that won Reuter’s Food Sustainability Media Award, and she recently authored The Grow System: The Essential Guide to Modern Self-Sufficient Living—From Growing Food to Making Medicine.
We do emails every week, Monday-Friday, what we have, what the kids have, who is picking up who, who’s in town, who’s out of town, school and work events. Couldn’t live without the emails. This is in addition both of us keeping a calendar and a kitchen wall calendar. Maybe not as personal as a 5 minute conversation, but it works for us. Where the regular scheduled conversation comes in handy is the “Should we renew that membership? What about going to this event?” where haven’t committed and need to have a conversation. Sadly, it does require a regular schedule for that kind of talk.
“… instead of reconciling, you could focus on enjoying each other more.” I guess that’s something you could even put on the weekly schedule!
I have been married for over 28 wonderful years. We came up with something that helped avoid some of the fights over money. We used to fight over every penny I spent, no matter how good a deal, or useful something was, we never had the money to spend. Our solution – I get $25 dollars a week (not that much in the scope of things), plus 10% of my overtime as an allowance. When I work industrial plant turnarounds I put in 60 to 80 hours a week (lots of overtime). I now have several “toys”, and a metal lathe, all with out a fight. P.S. work with your spouse on an amount that is fair and affordable, after all we are trying to improve our marriages.
Nice tip Phillip.
A while back my husband (who is beginning to show signs of mental decline) and I were having more of the “you never told me that” conversations. So, like you, I started having the weekly ‘conversation’ with him — backed with a simple timeline for the week on a clipboard he can refer to at any time (after checking his computer to confirm what day it is). I think the visual helps to imbed the activities in his memory. During particularly full weeks, we’ll meet briefly on a daily basis. I must add that it helps me keep up with things better, too. 🙂
If work schedules prevented a regular conversation about the week’s schedule, I’d bet that putting the same information on a calendar in a convenient location could accomplish the same thing.
Hi Bill we tried that – but somehow the personal check in and calender coordination works the best. Just becuse it is up on the calendar – which is prominent displayed in our home office – didn’t gaurentee connection.
My hubby and I have had the exact same disagreement so many times over the years! Understanding our different Energy Types (a la Carol Tuttle) has made a BIG difference in learning to deal with each other’s “processing” styles in a friendly way. We also have a Family Council on Sundays to go over calendering, meals (vital as our garden is just getting started and we live 20 miles from the nearest grocery store), other needs/goals, and issues that need a decision or discussion, and that keeps us from totally falling into chaos.
great article.. communication and adult time: this can be sex, talking, just gazing into each others eyes, watching something together, having a meal together something anything that is done together for the purpose of being together… (I used to think this was only for young parents but my kids are 20 and 18 and its still needed when the kids are grown and even out of the house) are most important in my book. Ive been with my husband now 30 out of my young 45 years. MY biggest lesson: it isnt the topic of the argument or fact there is disagreement it is how it is dealt with and overcome.