“But baaabe, okay, I want to say something and don’t get upset, but what do you think about…”
Those are the words I use when gently letting my Hubstopher know that he is speaking a load of nonsense and I’m about to set him straight.
After a few years of marriage, he is aware of my tactics already (the joke, after witnessing my C Section, is that he knows me inside and out) so he would call me out on it halfway into my pre-speech, nudging me with a “say what you want to say babe…” while I fumble around trying to find words that won’t hurt his heart or offend him.
And then, one day, in mid “Baaabe, okay, I want to say something” he stopped me and asked why I am setting up the convo, without simply saying what I feel. He didn’t appreciate that I felt the need to prepare him for what I was going to say, almost as if I thought he isn’t able to handle my commentary.
You see, in my attempt to not offend him, I ended up offending him more than, uhh, actually offending him with the original offense that I was trying not to offend him with. (Now say that really fast)
I’ve had to learn that thoughtful communication looks a lot differently to both of us. I mean, to him it means not mincing words and saying how you feel, when you feel it. To me, it means cherry-picking what you say and delivering it in a sugar-sweet way (aka a speech… I write a whole speech…)
Anyways, our strategy now is to have raw conversations that are dripping in love, and not ego.
Thoughtful communication, in this instance, is all about vulnerability and efficiency. (Efficient, because we honestly don’t have the time to beat around the bush anymore.) And even though we push to be raw and real with each other, we still have to remain mindful of the other person’s heart.
And friends, let me tell you, it’s especially hard to say honest words KINDLY when you believe that the other person is being a world-class idiot and needs to be set straight. Sometimes you’re angry or frustrated and you’re just not in the mood to be kind. You don’t always want to like each other… but you always have to choose to love each other.
I mean, I know exactly which buttons to press, to win the fight. But loving him – even when I don’t like him very much – means that I choose not to press those buttons. (And sometimes I totally choose to press all the buttons, at the same time, as if I’m playing Tekken at the corner shop arcade. Let’s not even front.)
I suddenly understand why aunties and uncles mention the importance of communication, during their speeches at weddings. Finding your “thoughtful communication mojo” is what marriage dreams are made of.
And hey, the beauty is that we have our whole lives to figure it out together. So, even if we don’t get it right today, there’s always tomorrow.