Your Spouse Can’t Hear What You’re Not Saying –
It sounds so simple, yet many people are just not able to get to the core of a disagreement. They keep on fighting and fighting over the same issues, while the real reasons for the disagreement remain hidden. Why? Because you aren’t saying what the problem is. How can your spouse listen to your concerns if you aren’t saying them out loud?
Let’s explore one hypothetical example so we can understand the dynamics:
Your husband wants to go to a baseball game with a few buddies. You list a litany of complaints about this “boys night out.” Everything from spending too much money, to drinking beer, to staying out too late on a weeknight, to leaving you alone to deal with the kids, comes up. This otherwise benign event results in a series of arguments that get more and more heated. The stadium is filled with other spouses who are enjoying a night out at a baseball game. Not all those married couples are having the same argument. So, what goes on here?
You have an underlying problem which is never mentioned. Insecurity, fear, and jealousy, could be bringing up these complaints. That is not to say that every instance like this one might not have real concerns to discuss. However, for this part of the debate, let’s say that there is no reason to fear the spouse’s night out.
In this kind of scenario, where there is an ongoing argument without any real reason, it may be because there are underlying issues that never get discussed, so the argument never gets resolved. If the married couple keeps going around in circles about this type of argument, it is worth considering that the issue is NOT about what’s being argued about. This kind of situation will, over time, alienate your spouse and make you feel unloved and unheard, basically because, again, your spouse can’t hear what you’re not saying.
Why you decided not to raise the real issue is almost as important as the issue itself. It could be because you feel you are being petty, or it could be because you feel your spouse might ridicule your emotions. These are more issues to address, making this a touchy situation, indeed.
Regardless of the reasons, these emotions are real, and ignoring them will not make them go away. In fact, ignoring them is likely to make it worse over time, since the lack of communication, and the misunderstanding, will only add to the tension.
If, however, you were willing to trust your spouse and talk about how you feel, you could work together towards solving the problem. State your case in such a way that your spouse does not feel threatened, but also understands that, whether the concerns are justified or not, your emotions are real and you BOTH have to deal with them. Belittling feelings by calling them “hang-ups” is not going to make them go away.
Don’t dodge the issue. Not talking about the turmoil you’re having with these feelings will only make it worse. Say what is really bothering you, no matter how big or small the problem might seem, and take it from there.
The only way this works, however, is to tackle the problem – the real problem – from the point of view that both of you want to solve it. Having respect for both your feelings, the person who wants to go to the game and the person who sees trouble ahead, is the first step. Approach any REAL problem about the situation with honesty, as well as any underlying feelings you may be avoiding, and not talking about.
At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, you profess your love for each other. If you do, you should be willing to work through anything that gets in your way of a successful marriage. The first step is to be painfully aware of the real problem behind the arguments and be willing to get rid of that smokescreen that’s been thrown up to protect yourself.