Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Content communicating pays off!

bI few months ago now, Ben and I listened to some CD's about marriage, called "For All Eternity" by John L. Lund. Despite the generically sweet title, we found them to offer lots of practical suggestions.

Dr. Lund taught us all about "Content Communication". Basically, saying what you mean, and then holding each other accountable for what you say. ie: If I say "Are you thirsty?" Ben interprets that as MY concern for his need of a drink, not a request for my own. If I ask, "Are you cold?" He doesn't have to magically translate that into,"Hmmm, maybe I should turn up the thermostat and go fetch my wife a blanket."

Dr. Lund explains how we've been taught to be hint droppers. But how my family dropped hints might be different then how your family taught you to drop them.

The night we listened to this particular portion of his lectures, we had a lot of fun practicing. He explained how we often expect our spouses to pick up on body language, tone and other non-verbal cues and then we get frustrated when they don't "get it". Soooo, I decided to say in my best robot voice, "Will you please go down stairs and put the garbage on the curb, right now?" (As opposed to how I probably would have tried suggesting "Oh hey, is it garbage day tomorrow?" It started a game that when ever I used my robot voice, saying something like "I'm tired and I'm going to go to sleep now", he would respond with fake obliviousness, "Uh, is that a hint?"
(My one friend who borrowed the CD's totally thought she wasn't a hint dropper, and after she started paying attention totally caught herself doing it all the time.)

So why do we use this inefficient, what Dr. Lund would call "dysfunctional", read-my-mind communicating? He explains that it's all based on the erroneous belief, that "IF WE HAFTA ASK IT DOESN'T MEAN AS MUCH"

I may have resisted that thought a little bit at first. But I realized it's true. We have this romantic-comedy-concept, that if someone loves us, they should always know exactly what we need. Which simply is not true. Sometimes we have to tell them. And if they love us, they will listen and respond. (Dr Lund talks about being good initiators and good responders...betcha can't guess which on I am:)

(Sheesh I WILL write short post one of these days, I WILL....but that was some necessary background.) Now for the fun example.

OKay, again, this will be much more entertaining to those of you who know Ben.

My husband is a lot of things. He is a hard-worker. He is kind. He is loyal (more so than me telling stories about him on my blog:) He is someone who, I know deep down, would do anything for me. But a romantic, he is not.

He also works with his best friedn, Tanner. They've pretty much done everything together since Jr. high. So, thank goodness I really like his wife:) Phew! She's great. And we've often laughed about how ironic it is that our husband's work next door to a flower shop, but it just never occurs to either of them...

Well, the other day I was out behind Ben's office and noticed a HUGE lilac bush in the ally way. (My dad wasn't always the most steller hubby, but he often brought my mom bouquets of wild flowers..okay really they were ditch flowers...but they represented my dad thinking of my mom, so they were beautiful to me). So in my head I think, oh wouldn't it be nice if...

1st attempt: I email Ben. "Hey you should tell tanner to pick some lilacs for Amanda, I bet she'd really appreciate that."

Pretty obvious hint right???

He promptly forwarded the message to Tanner, who probably thought, "uh that's weird."
Neither, me nor Amanda got flowers that night.

Round 2: Applying all my new content communication knowledge, I put on my robot voice at dinner, and say "Honey, yesterday when I sent you that email, what I meant was, I would like YOU to go out to the lilac bushes behind your office and pick ME a bouquet...about this big (I gesture) with stems about this long (so they'll fit nicely in my vase).

The result: One happy wife.

You can tell a bit by his sarcastic little grin, he's thinking, "ya but she told me too, so it doesn't mean as much."

But when I look at my vase of lilacs (he picked a slightly bigger bouquet than a requested btw...I guess he assumed if a little bouquet makes her feel loved, a big bouquet will REALLY make her feel loved:) when I look at them, I just feel happy, and loved, and who cares that I told him what I wanted, he loved me enough to say "oh, that's what she wants, oh that'll make her feel happy and loved, and because well I DO love her, I guess I'll do that."

Doesn't mean less at all.

So if there's something YOU need from the person you love, try just telling em. Chances are they'll love you enough to respond.

Even if it means picking lilacs in the rain beside a dumpster.


Rebecca said...Best Blogger Tips

Love it! Especially the pictures of Ben. You can tell how happy he is to be featured on your blog.

Neisa Marie said...Best Blogger Tips

haha chels i love this post, and you. ps, if you ever doubted bens love, just look back at all of the numerous pictures that he so graciously posed in for you...now thats love. :P

Jen said...Best Blogger Tips

Loooooove this, Chelsea!

Chancieoh said...Best Blogger Tips

wonderful, I see a very common strain in our men, it must be a mans thing. But hey whatever works I am with you on that. great post chelsea. luv you. Nan. XXX

Crystal HW said...Best Blogger Tips

SWEET! I totally get what you mean, and should start just asking for what I want.
Thanks for posting this.


Marie said...Best Blogger Tips

Hehehe, I thought the same thing as Rebecca.

I have been loving the lilacs lately. The bushes in my yard have been very productive this spring and I've been picking and picking. Love.

Chelsea Belle said...Best Blogger Tips

Marie: it was the lilacs you gave Marina, that got me lilac hungry in the first place!

Annette said...Best Blogger Tips

Hi, I found you randomly through a friend of a friend kind of a thing, and just wanted to say, that even though you did have to ask, it was remarkably sweet of him to get you the flowers.
It made me teary. Since I had kids I cry about ... everything.

Melody said...Best Blogger Tips

Joseph brings me flowers every few months...because when we were dating I told him I loved flowers and asked him to give them to me on occasion. My thought was that how was he supposed to know that I wanted flowers unless I told him? So I think I understood the basics of content communicating. But your post has me wondering...in what other areas do I drop hints? I'm gonna have to keep an eye out and apply the content communication to more than just flowers. :)

And beautiful flowers! Lilacs (and roses) are my favorites.