A conversation with my husband this morning has got me thinking about how we communicate and what we communicate. I wonder how many problems of the world are caused by simply misunderstanding people and circumstances? I was sick with a fever and chills yesterday, I had some sort of bug that left me feeling very exhausted and shitty. I couldn’t concentrate on anything for long amounts of time, and I slept for most of the day. The day before that, I had power-cleaned the house but the days activities had made that fact hard to notice.
So, in a nutshell, our conversation this morning was sparked by the fact I had asked John if he would do the dishes yesterday when I was sick, and they were still sitting there today, unwashed. I was upset that he didn’t do the dishes (right away) The “right away” part was lost in translation because I wasn’t specific. To be honest, I felt offended that he didn’t pick up on the implied time-frame of “right now”.
To me the “right now” was obvious. We didn’t have any clean dishes. They were piling up on the counter, and add to that it was frustrating having done so much cleaning the day before only to have it revert back to messiness in less than 24 hours.
After thinking about it for a moment, I explained to him that for me it felt unloving to leave the dishes sitting. I felt like I was being ignored, and I wouldn’t have asked him to do them if I wanted them to sit there for another day. John doesn’t think that way. He’s a different person than I am, and as much as I am a proponent of telepathy, it just not that simple.
A stack of dirty dishes won’t make his eye twitch like it does to me. He doesn’t have the same adverse reaction to it as I do, therefor he doesn’t have the same sense of urgency when it comes to getting them done. During our conversation he used a funny but effective way of explaining how he thinks. He told me that if I want something done “right now” like the dishes I should specify “right now”. He said his mind just kind of automatically puts the request into the “I’ll do it tomorrow” category. He said it requires a kind of override in the form of sternness, that way he can calculate the urgency level of the task.
Our conversation continued with me telling him that made sense, but I didn’t want to resort to having to be stern when I have to ask for something. I told him I didn’t want to feel like the nagging wife. At the end of it we resolved that I would be more specific about what I need and try to articulate a time-frame if there is one. Makes sense.
I think a lot of the time when we ask for help, we feel bad for even asking, so we don’t go into much detail about what we need; or we assume those details are already known, when perhaps they are not. This conversation got me thinking about the whole idea of getting our needs met, and communication, it’s made me see the value of being specific. It’s not a bad thing to disclose what you want, and how you want it.
By the way, we ended up doing the dishes this morning together, they got done much faster. 🙂