March 20, 2014

"Fine." (And other passive aggressive wife talk.)

Is that what you’re wearing? (Black shoes and white socks? Really?)

Do you know where you’re going? (Because I do. You are going out of your way to get us lost.)

Don’t worry about it. I got it. (Are you two years old? Do I need to ask you nine times to take out the trash?)

But I want to know your opinion. (I want to know that your opinion is the exact same as mine.)

It’s okay. (Guess how long you will be paying for that mistake?)

Do whatever you want. (I dare you.)

Thanks A LOT. (Thanks for nothing.)

Fine. (I know I’m right, but I don't wanna talk about it anymore.)

I don’t care. (I’m totally lying. I do care. But this is a test, and you might as well accept failure now.)

Nothing. (Of course something is wrong. Read my mind and figure it out.)

How do I look? (The correct response here is “Just like Angelina Jolie.”)

Sometimes when I communicate with Collin, I don’t let him win.

I ask questions that I already know the answer to, questions with no correct response, questions expecting him to read my mind and recite back my answer.

I don’t directly ask for what I want, because “it’s not as special when I have to ask.” I mope and play the martyr when I don’t get my way, but refuse to talk about what “my way” is. I don’t talk about “what’s wrong.” (Because “nothing’s wrong.”)

I realize that husbands have communication problems too. I realize that even when we are both trying to communicate well, we may still have miscommunications and misunderstandings.

But what I have come to realize as a wife is that this kind of communication is passive aggressive. It’s not fair. It’s sarcastic. It’s downright mean. And mostly (sadly), it’s telling my husband I don’t trust him enough to share my real thoughts and opinions with him.

So what I have tried to do is to slowly shed some of this passive aggressive communication I have come to practice a little too often.

First, I warned Collin and tried to explain that I wanted to be more direct in how I communicate with him. I didn’t want him to expect an “Is that what you’re wearing?” and then punch him in the gut with a “Please change. You look ridiculous.”

            Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Second, I had to remind myself that even though I was going to try to be more direct, I had to remember to be kind. To “speak the truth in love.” Because there is a lot of truth to the phrase “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

            A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

And third, I reminded myself that I married a very loving, kind, and caring man. He wants to know my opinion. He cares about what I think. And yes, he loves me so much that he even wants to know “what’s wrong.” So instead of making him pry open my brain with a crowbar every time I am upset or have a strong opinion but don’t want to share, share is exactly what I attempt to do. In the words of John Mayer, “Say what you need to say.”

And Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. This is hard for me. Still a struggle. Always a struggle.

Like I said, I can be a “moper,” a martyr, a “woe is me” personality. (I used to run away from the dinner table and cry when my siblings were mean to me just so that my dad would have to come to my room to get me, comfort me, and give me a piggy-back ride back to the dinner table. A fragile child, I was. Am.)

And even when I am able to directly communicate, sometimes my tone of voice does not always carry the tone of love and kindness that it should. And sometimes what I am trying to say is negative and hurtful and shouldn't be said at all. (Have you ever tried to go a whole day without saying something negative to your spouse? That is a loud a wake-up call.) And I do believe that “please” and “thank you” are not out of fashion. (The genuine kind. Not the sarcastic kind.)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 

But how wonderful to be able to trustingly, honestly, and kindly share my opinion and have it listened to and accepted by a trustworthy, honest, and kind man.
How efficient to simply ask a direct question that clearly communicates what I am thinking. 

How great to share what is bothering my heart, rather than wasting an entire night in anger saying “nothing” and getting nowhere. (Or being honest enough to say “I don’t know what’s wrong,” as for me, that can be the case too. Perks of being a woman.)

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. 

Before Valentine’s Day I wrote about love languages and how I am a “words of affirmation” kind of gal. Well, although we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, Collin told me my gift was to pick out a chick flick to watch. A kind gesture, no doubt. But torturing Collin for two hours through a chick flick was not what I had in mind. My nature at that point would be to sulk, silently punish both him and myself because he didn't read my mind and do what I wanted. But instead, I took a risk.

I said, “All I want for Valentine’s Day is for you to write me a note.” Yikes. That was scary to admit.

But I did not get a note. I got seven. Seven notes hidden in different spots around the house where Collin knew I would find them. Seven notes like this one I found resting on our toilet seat:


I’m so glad I asked.

So here’s to communicating better, kinder, more honestly. Here’s to being less passive aggressive, less negative. Here’s to trusting the kind, loving, and caring people we married. 

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Grace and Peace,