Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Lesson: The Communication Cycle
I've discovered that communication is not my strongest trait. Shocking, I know, from someone who chatters as much as I do. However, I've learned that there is a significant difference between talking and communicating, between acknowledging a problem and solving it.
All my life I've been the kind of person who avoids conflict. For some reason, I'm scared to death of making other people angry, upset, or even mildly disappointed. Therefore, if something bothers or upsets me, I tend to just let it slide, tuck it down somewhere in my stomach until it dissipates. Depending on the offense, that might take a couple minutes or a few days. In most relationships, I forget about it and people think I'm agreeable, cheerful, or laid-back. In married life, however, it does anything but help me.
Almost every fight that Derrin and I have had has been caused by this issue. He says or does something minor that upsets me, but I try not to acknowledge it, thinking if I let it roll off then it will be fine. I shoot myself in the foot every time! The hurt builds, fueled by misconstrued remarks and gestures. Four hours later, I'm angry and in tears. He sits there stunned by my meltdown, the poor man thinking he married a crazy nutcase (he did).
Here's the kicker: Derrin is profoundly understanding and sensitive to my feelings. If I tell him something hurt me, he will calmly talk about it, tell me how he actually meant to come across, and apologize. He's not always perceptive enough to pick up that I'm upset if I don't tell him. (Really, who is? Women are infamously cryptic and I am no exception.) Yet I remain so paralyzed by my fear of upsetting him that I take a tiny issue and catapult it to new heights. It's not difficult to predict this happening. Proverbs 26:25-26 says, "Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. Their malice may be concealed by deception, but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly."
This is probably one of the most important lessons I have to learn, and as luck would have it, one of the most difficult. Without conflict resolution skills I'm setting myself up to spend the majority of my life in tense, hurtful situations. I have to learn to respect myself and my husband enough to recognize issues before they get out of hand.