I remember it clearly. My husband, Josh, and I were sitting in the car after a holiday party with my family, and I had brought up a topic of discussion in which we were opposite. I stated my question with opinion and it was followed by silence. I waited as long as I could and then added another point to my argument I had thought of in the silence. No response. I started telling myself a story that he was stubborn and being difficult. Why did I bring it up with over 30 minutes left in the drive? Ugh. We aren’t much for yelling but the air was tense. Finally I got a response. His words were brief but clear. There was more silence in the back and forth but it wasn’t quite as long. Our first fight. Not so bad.
Josh and I rarely argue. We discuss things with a calm voice, and it doesn’t often get amped up. It has always been that way. However, the amount of intense conversations has increased as we are parents of three kids and make more frequent important decisions.
Conversations weren’t always calm for me. They were usually a test of my patience. I would begin or respond to a topic of discussion and then it was a waiting game. And I never knew how long it would take to hear my husband’s voice. Finally I pushed for why it took him so long to participate in a discussion. Lucky for us, it was a super productive response that has been the key to our communication.
Josh is great with analogies, and has really influenced my own love for creating them now. This was his first analogy he made that I love! He explained that he is a crockpot and I am a microwave. He likes to stew on his thoughts, organize them, clarify his internal dialog, and let them develop carefully. I quickly do those things and verbally process my thoughts and feelings. At first I thought he did this to filter and not be honest with me, but he clarified. He wanted to be sure he shared what he was feeling so that he didn’t say something quick and regret it…whether because it caused unintended harm or it wasn’t really what he thought but a knee jerk response.
Once we understood each others’ process, it kept the conversation or argument on topic and not about our styles. Now if we need to have a discussion I know that the topic is shared and I respond typically in a quick minute followed by a long pause. I usually try to have a chore available! Ha! For example, I fold laundry while he processes and marinates. Sometimes I wash dishes, or open mail. I try to keep my mind off recycling what I already said. If I don’t, I continue to wish to say more. But every time I share something more, it resets his process. We have meaningful discussion that gets to the point, even though it takes a bit more time, on the low setting. I would rather that though, than the style of our communication be the problem.
We are opposites in many ways, and communication is just another aspect of it. I continue to see our opposites as our advantage. It can get complicated, but we refine one another through our differences. What are your communication styles?