Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I have been married going on 14 years but my wife and I argue a lot. My wife holds things in until she is absolutely clear about what she wants to say then she lets me have it. She is very black and white, always quite literal in what she says. I on the other hand think out loud. I live in a stream of consciousness and I process as I go. For me everything is open to negotiation and I need give and take in order to form a conclusion.
After all this time you think we’d adjust to the difference in our styles but instead we drive each other crazy with miscommunications. She doesn’t wait to negotiate or hear me through, but instead jumps on the first thing out of my mouth. She often misses my intent.
She can be disturbed by something that happened a week ago yet not mention anything about it until days after the fact. She first has to muse it over in her head and come to a conclusion. The problem is, by the time she comes out with it I’ve forgotten the whole thing and have no idea what she is going on about. I have tried to communicate with her differently but my mind just doesn’t work that way. It’s frustrating but I don’t see it changing.
Is this a normal men are from Mars and woman are from Venus thing? Is there anything we can do?
Everyone’s brain is formatted differently and many factors affect that little voice in your own head. Your mind set is the result of a combination of genetics and culture. Your wife has her own particular mind set. The two of you are not alone in the misunderstanding of each other’s intent. In fact, Deborah Tannen has produced a great audio book on this subject That’s Not What I Meant about the differences between what people say and how it is heard. I suggest listening to it with your wife.
It is ironic that the same people having these communication impasses in their relationships often finished each other’s sentences and felt as if they were one when they first began dating. This can happen because at the beginning of a relationship there is often a total focus on each other without extraneous distractions or responsibilities. This type of focus can wear horse blinders. People project themselves and their own desires onto the other person. They see only what they want to see. It isn’t until much later that they discover who they are really with.
Good luck and remember there is always Marital Therapy.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: you and your wife are yin and yang. Opposites attract, so this is not necessarily a deal breaker in itself. The inability to negotiate is where the problems center.
If you were in business together, you would have to use standard partner protocol in solving problems. Issues would have to be discussed by all involved parties before conclusions were drawn and contracts signed. Your wife is violating the standard protocol of relationship negotiation; she seems to be conducting all negotiations entirely in her own head without consulting you in the process. If she were living alone, this would be acceptable. Since she is in a relationship, she needs to stop being a silent, seething bitch and start doing more frequent reality checks.
Who knows, maybe you really are an asshole. But this isn’t the way to find out.