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Using the “C” Word [Tall Drink of Nerd]

Yesterday was my 10th wedding anniversary, so I figured I would share one of the secrets to long-term marital bliss. You don’t make it through 21 years in a relationship without learning how to use the “C” word. My not so secret, secret? Communication.

When I was super-young and single and really bad at relationships, I met Seen. We had some heated fights in the first few years. I’d screech and cry and he’d sleep on the couch. I would shut down rather than discuss problems or find a solution. My move was to steam in silence, waiting for him to figure out what he had done wrong. I wanted him to intuitively know what my mood was, why I was so damn grumpy and the cure for it all. TV shows and chick flicks showed me what perfect was. Women were rescued by a prince. You know, the guy who “got” her even though her current beau didn’t. That was true love and how to know your soul mate immediately.

In my humble experience, I can tell you that TV, chick flicks, love songs and most fairy tales are full of shit. Being involved with somebody isn’t effortless, but it isn’t ‘hard work’ either. It’s about talking to each other. Not being an ass-hat helps, but mainly it’s the talking. For me, one of the hardest parts of this communicating thing, was actually knowing what I am trying to say. Sometimes I have to stop, think about what’s happening here and figure myself out before I start talking. Here’s a simple little example we just lived through:

When making weekend plans, more often than not, Seen will say “We can do whatever you want to do.” which always made my hackles rise. I wasn’t sure why. Was it because I was tired of looking up stuff to do? Was it because I make most of the plans? Nope. After ruminating on what exactly was bugging the crap out of me, I realized what my issue was. That little phrase made me feel like he was uninterested in our time together, like our plans were something for him to pass time with, not something he would get excited about.

So after a few months of me, in a huff, saying “I hate it when you say that. You figure something out.” (seriously, I should have tried to figure it out quicker, but it took me awhile to even think there might be more to my irritation than just getting irritated) The moment after I figured myself out, I approached him in a non-emotional way and explained that when he said “…whatever you wanna do…” it irked me, and why.

Turns out he had no idea that’s what I was hearing. What he was trying to convey was “I want to make you happy, so I will go wherever you want to go and do whatever makes you that way.” Which is a way different translation.

We still fight on occasion, I like to think of it as a sign of passion. But the fights diffuse faster now that we’ve figured out the secret of the “C” word. The example above is a small, teeny issue, not a big problem like where to live or what religion to raise the kids, but we’ve had the big talks in a very similar way. It’s all about examining what is your logical reaction, what is your emotional reaction, how to convey those and how to listen to each other. Simple stuff. And if you love somebody, really not too terribly difficult at all.

NOTE: If you clicked on this because you thought I was referring to the See You Next Tuesday “C” word, or that Laura Linney show, please communicate your confusion to me in the comments. We can work it out…without all the swearing.

featured image credit: chrisinplymouth

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