09 December 2010

Communication: Key to EVERYTHING

So last night, my partner and I had a fight.

We don't usually fight ... disagreements, yes, but very few fights. It wasn't really a big fight. In fact it was pretty stupid. He played a joke that I didn't find funny, I actually felt a little hurt by it, and then I felt that he dismissed my feelings as "silly" and "drama". Which, maybe they were, but we all know that when you're in the midst of a feeling, the last thing you want to hear is that it's ridiculous.

I spent a large part of the conversation stewing over this. In my family, if someone's mad about something, we used to just walk away, and after cooling off we wouldn't talk about it. Basically we pretended like it never happened. But this, I think, isn't productive. I (and I think the others in my family) have been working to change this. Maybe we go off in a huff, but then we go to the other person and talk about why we feel the way we do.

So while I was hearing about some aircraft thing or another, I was sitting there trying to figure out, "why am I really angry?" And I came to the conclusion that I wasn't really mad about the joke, but I was mad about how he (from my perspective) dismissed what I felt. That was what I was truly upset over.

Instead of just going off to be mad and cry, I told him I was mad and why. (Haha. Rhyme.) He didn't understand, at first. And I had to really struggle to see things from his perspective. I have a tendency in fights to not say a lot of what I'm thinking, because I don't want to say something I'll regret. This leads to a lot of long silences. It wasn't pretty. But we kept at it, we kept talking, we didn't give up and hang up the phone. I forced myself to say what I was thinking.

And you know what? I don't even remember what the resolution was. It wasn't some big thing of "I'll try to do this and you'll try to do that." I think it was just that once I felt like he understood and listened to me, I felt better. We talked for a few more minutes, then hung up normally. And I felt great.

In the experiences I've had in my life, it's become so clear to me that talking to others is the key to everything. A relationship can break down because one person doesn't tell the other how they're feeling. A misunderstanding can grow to huge proportions. You can sit in your room, weeping and feeling terrible, when if you just talked to the other person about what you're feeling, you might find that they feel the same way, or that they didn't even know you were hurting.

I'm not talking about accusatory conversations ... "You are wrong! I am right!" What I mean is a conversation about "when you do or say this, this is the way it makes me feel." If someone's actions or words hurt you, don't just tell me about it! Talk to THEM. Because they might not even know that you're hurting.

We rock.

Jenni and Heather are two sisters who live in completely different places, and do completely different things with their lives.