In my last post about loving good questions I mentioned communication being our triad’s biggest challenge. In August I spent three weeks in the hospital. During that time we got to "test" our communication skills.
I thought I would take a moment here and go over some of our communication challenges and how we work together to overcome them.
First let me say I am feeling MUCH better. I have gone to the Mayo Clinic and though I have a long road ahead of me I am hopeful.
Okay, onto the original topic!
"I thought I told you." - This probably happens to us the most. Anne and I are together throughout the day so often times we fall victim to Randy not being in the loop on something. Nowadays it's not such a big deal but in the early days moments like that could cause some tension and ruffle some feathers. It could be for simple things like the tree guy coming to trim our palm trees or me mentioning something about an appointment. Back then we dealt with this issue by reassuring one another there was no intention of leaving someone out. Now we are all a lot more secure with each other, the reassurance isn't necessary. We just try to keep everyone in the loop. When we goof up and don’t tell someone something we apologize and correct the situation pausing to make sure said person is up to speed.
"I assumed or I thought" - We just went through this one. This last flare up was difficult and lasted much longer than most. I was flaring for almost two months. No fun. It's not just hard on me though; it is hard on everyone! During this flare, Anne felt like she needed to be the one to keep it together. That she too couldn't express frustration, not at me, but at the illness. It really put an extra burden on her that she didn't need to carry.
When we did sit down to talk about it after I got out of the hospital there were some built up tensions that we could have avoided. Now, instead of assuming or believing, we check in with each other and communicate things, even when it seems unnecessary.
Going to Abilene - While writing this blog Anne reminded me of a story Randy tells about going to Abilene. Early on in our relationship this happened a lot because one or all of us didn’t speak up for what we wanted. This happened for a lot of reasons. No one wanted to hurt anyone, no one wanted to always be the one to decide something are just two examples. Now we say “⅓ of the time.” One third of the time you get to pick where we’re eating or what activity we’re doing. Now we don’t actually follow that every time, but remembering that helps us to remember that while letting others pick the activity is fine most of the time, it’s okay for us to speak up too.
Anne says, “I tend to be over-concerned about upsetting someone else by expressing a potentially dissenting opinion. I'm trying to take that risk more, by asking the Abilene question. My growth in communication has been about making sure there's nothing building under my surface, waiting for a volcanic explosion which takes everyone off-guard. If I'm checking in, I'm letting my partners know not just the bad, but also the good. "Hey, when you said that about needing time with me, too, that really made me feel good." My partners can meet my needs better, if I tell them what I like along with my dislikes.”
The important thing to remember is to never leave anyone out. In our experience we have found that conversations about important stuff need to be transparent between the three of us.
Why do we feel it is important to communicate everything? For one thing to make sure someone doesn't feel left out. It also allows us to back each other up if necessary. Usually I am the one who handles things relating to the home (like the tree guy coming) but if I am sick, Anne or Randy are able to step right up without missing a beat.
What's our solution? Google Hangouts, email, and weekly (or more, if needed) meetings. We also have a daily board we use. Aside from those tools we also use laughter. We use laughter a LOT.
The picture is an example of our board last fall. Everyone in the house has a specific color and the board is like our family's daily planner.
We all had some growing pains in the first year of our marriage. I don’t hide nor deny that it was difficult. I had a LOT of baggage to work through. Other people had baggage too. At the end of the day I think what keeps us together through that first year and now is our love and commitment to each other. All three of us want this relationship to work. All three of us work at it so it is successful. <3