“Honey, we’ve got to talk.”
Do you hear this phrase often enough to make your blood run cold? Do most of your relationship talks start this way? Does this usually preface a several-hour discussion? If your relationships’ communication styles rely on a series of “Come to Jesus” chats, you’re not really communicating. Someone’s lecturing and someone’s resisting. That’s not communicating.
In a relationship where communication lines are open, there’s a much more fluid sense to it. You might have a partner ask, “Hey, just checkin’ in. How are you feeling relationship-wise between us?” If you feel ice in your guts when something like that is asked, you have a large and dramatic problem. If you find yourself relaxed and glad of the opportunity to bring up a little point such as, “Well, feeling okay about it, but I wanted to mention that the weasel porn isn’t really my kink, so could we do some other stuff instead? ” and the discussion is done in five or ten minutes, you’re all good.
In a healthy relationship, large and dramatic problems are rare1. Why? Because they’re usually dealt with casually and calmly when they’re small. It’s rather like cleaning as you go in your kitchen and washing the dishes before they get crusty. Dealing with little things as they come up isn’t as exciting, maybe, as the big, dramatic blowups and discussions. But, it’s probably better to save your desire for an adrenalin rush for jumping out of airplanes or something and take care of your relationships a bit more smoothly.
To do this well, you have to be willing to do several things. You need to be willing to ask your partners what they’re thinking and feeling, you need to listen carefully to what they’re saying, and you need to be able to volunteer what you’re thinking or feeling on a regular basis. Don’t let things fester.
However, there’s a difference between not letting things fester and feeling like you have to deal with the issue the very second you think it, too! You don’t need to meet partners at the door with it, interrupt their work with it, wake ’em up in the middle of the night with it or any of that. If it doesn’t involve blood or fire, any of these things can wait 48 hours or so2. If you’re dealing with it on a regular basis, it probably isn’t so urgent it can’t wait a day, anyway.
To make it work, be open with your partner. If you partner asks how things are going, but you’re in the middle of a project that has a deadline, you can and should say so! “Sugar, I do wanna let you know, but I’m so busy until Thursday that I can’t think about anything but but finishing this project for the Evil Overlord.” Come Thursday, though, you’d better be ready to cough up what you’re thinking! If you’re not wanting to communicate and are looking for ways not to, you definitely have some self-examination to do about your relationship.
Rather like getting in the habit of decluttering regularly, you’ll find your relationships will be less messy and far more relaxed.
Oh, and more fun, too! I know you want that, so enjoy.
And for those of you who celebrate it, Happy Hobbit Day!
1Rare doesn’t mean never, m’kay? Yes, of course a good relationship can have rocky spots sometimes!
2If your partner isn’t willing to talk at all, then you have a different problem. It does take two people to communicate, and what can’t we force other people to do boys and girls? Right.