Mark and Jennifer (not their real names) were telling me recently how they argue about how much money Mark should spend on fast food and coffee during the work week. They could not agree on any amount for Mark, so they just stopped talking about it.
Jennifer was very unhappy with Mark’s $450 per month fast food and coffee spending habits. She just couldn’t let go of thinking how much they could save a month, if only Mark would listen to her point of view. After all, they could have purchase a family piano by now for her and the children to practice on.
Mark and Jennifer are both unhappy that the other one will not go along with how to spend and save money.
Last month I walked into a large office supply store without knowing where to find the items I wanted to purchase for my business. I wandered down a few aisles. A store worker named John greeted me and asked if he could help me find what I was looking for. I said, “Yes, that would be great. I have five items on my list.” He said, Go ahead and read them. I read him the list: “Black and color ink for my printer, a four-drawer filing cabinet with a lock, a box of file folders, and file hangers for the new filing cabinet”.
John looked at me with a smile and said, “Meet me over in the paper section and I will get you a cart for all your supplies.” I was relieved that I found someone friendly to help me.
Staying interested in the other to discover the need behind the problem
Jennifer and Mark did not ask questions to understand each others needs to save or to spend money. They got stuck in not knowing how to communicate and did not get to the heart of the matter.
John was interested in getting my business supplies with quality and the lowest cost possible. Because he didn’t seem hurried, after getting my supplies, I asked him about the latest printers for my needs. John took the time and showed me what the latest printers for my needs. John took the time and showed me what latest printers can do for my specific needs. John copied the information on the printer I was most interested in, so in the near future I could purchase it.
This was my best experience in shopping for business supplies because John was interested in meeting my needs as a customer. His curiosity in wanting to know my specific needs led to my gaining better knowledge of the products, and yes, I do plan to return to this office supply store in the near future.
Tension has been building up for months between Mark and Jennifer. Each has been hoping the other would read each other’s mind to resolve the tension between them.
No luck here.
They finally got into counseling. During a counseling session, Jennifer shared on paper what Mark was spending per month of fast food and coffee every month. Jennifer revealed her fears of becoming poor again and felt out of control with these kind of spending habits.
Mark responded that he didn’t really know how much of the family budget he was spending or that he was creating so much stress on Jennifer.
In counseling both were able to listen to the other’s point of view. Mark ended up agreeing to spend twenty dollars per week on coffee, and eat breakfast at home, and take a lunch to work.
Having that difficult conversation
Sometimes it’s just awkward and painful to ask your partner to do something they don’t like. You think you’ll probably be met with resistance, such as being ignored or being given lip service: by saying “Yes, honey, I know, I’ll do better next time” or ” you’ve right, I’ll try to do better”.
3 suggestions for getting back to that difficult conversation with you partner
- Set up a time during the week or weekend where you can be alone together without interruptions. Make this a priority. Use the time to talk about your frustrations during the week, if any. Talk about one topic at a time to resolve it. If you run out of time, set up another time in a day or two to finish the discussion.
- Start with two or three positive things your partner did or said this week. Hearing the positives can open your partner’s heart to receiving your requests to do something different to meet a need.
- Then, each partner asks: “Is there something you need or want from me?” If yes, try to use “I statements” when your making your requests. For example: I get home Wednesday at 6 p. m., and I would really like it if you had dinner really for me and the kids as you are home at 4 p. m. How would that be for you?
So, you can see that by having a time set up with your partner during the week or weekend, you can resolve your miscommunication in timely way.
Of course, there are couples who constantly disagree and even get into name-calling and dislike to each other. This is where professional help can be useful.
Send a comment and let me know how you handle your miscommunications with your partner.