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Well here goes entry two. Communication ... Did we hear what we thought? What are our filters

captjacksprrw's picture

So I've realized that the last few years, my disagreements with DW have gotten more intense and the words I use are sometimes vile.  This is not at all normal for me and yes, we are working via counseling.  After a very bad weekend argument and some time to talk and consider, I've possibly stumbled on the root cause and that is our communications.  A few years ago, I had both of my SS at home.  Both allowed trash to pile in their rooms, both would dirty multiple dishes and cooking utensils and leave them sit expecting us to clean, etc. 

The is the danger zone, though.  Both my wife and I are normally good communicators.  However, we totally missed the mark on what the other was conveying and now we're in this horrible place that we want to fix.  From my experience, thought I was saying that this is crushing housework and it's not acceptable for these two capable young ment to not help out.  Let's sit them down and set ground rules.  I am now sure much of my communication was complaining about them being lazy slobs not willing to help and pretty gruff and offensive when talking to their mom.  As a result, she felt attacjed and that her parenting was under fire and also that I was dumping a problem at her feet and expecting her as bio mom to fix it alone.   From her experience she thought that she was agreeing that they were acting wasn't aceptable.  To me, I heard times are different and I pick my battle (not including this).  After many times of both of us having the same conversation and both of us hearing the same incorrect message, filters got set.  I slumped my head and gave up on any change unless/until both SS were on their own and then had to deal with their own habits.  I did not give up in a healthy way.  Instead it festered.  Each time something really triggered me, I remembered the last worst instances.  This gave way to me saying some nasty things that a sailor would find offensive.  It kept getting to worse words and even when the youngest SS launched and was very successful, my filter was still a few years back and with each reminder I've put focus onto SS28 but treated it as if both he and his brother were still doing the same thing.  Part of this is I really feel he has no incentive to launch and exhibits no ambition to do so.

It resulted in a bad disagreement and I feel confused and guilty but know that it will take worth from she and I both.  This is not a one person thing.


tog redux's picture

I kind of think it IS her job as the bio parent to fix it alone.  They aren't your kids. 

But it's good to own your own poor fighting skills. 

Lollybobs's picture

Do you know what Captain Jack? You're honest. You haven't set the blame solely with your wife, you've admitted it takes two to tango. So actually you're in a great place to move forward. 

It is so easy to say things in the heat of the moment that shouldn't be said, particularly when you're so frustrated by the other person's lack of understanding and/or willingness to accept what is happening right in front of their eyes. In the world of stephell you certainly won't be the first or last to find yourself in this spot.

But it sounds as if you've identified a very likely root cause of the  original problem, as well as realising that what is said and heard can be two very different things. If you haven't already, tell you wife exactly what you've told us. If I were her, I would listen to that because it's presented very fairly and makes perfect sense.

captjacksprrw's picture

We are emotionally drained but talking about it.  Still don't like my behavior but maybe we can rebuild from here.

ESMOD's picture

It's hard to change our perspective sometimes.  I mean, to a hammer, everything is a nail.  What is helpful is that you are self aware and are making an effort to see beyond your own POV... and to recognize your own cognizant biases.

It's also important to try to empathize with the other person.. what might their own motivation be?  Also.. what is your relationship with this person?  Do you believe that they normally keep your best interests at heart?  If they would.. why might they be holding on to a particular position argument?

It takes time.. it takes work to "fight fair".. to not hit the other person with low blows.. and to recognize and give credit for changed behaviors.

Evil3's picture

It's great that you acknowledge your own role in matters.

My DH and I were caught in a communication loop for years, but only when it pertained to his precious poopsies. After several come to Jesus meetings and me almost walking out two or three times, DH and I finally talked calmly and analyzed what we heard. It wasn't the words we heard, but rather the conclusions we came to. For example, whenever I'd ever so gently broach a subject regarding my SK's, especially SD's behaviour, DH would fiercely defend SD by ripping my head off and shitting down my throat. It turned out that I'd speak gentle words and a gentle tone, but with my DH's own issue of his intense fear of losing SD to the all-mighty BM, DH lived with the fear that it wouldn't take much for SD to leave him in favour of BM. If DH were to dare address anything with the SKs, especially SD, that would be it. She'd be gone forever. So the equation was that DH would hear my words=loss of SD. That was it. There was no in between. The thought of addressing anything with SD meant imminent loss of her. So, DH equated my words with, "lose SD."

Whenever DH fiercely defended that brat (sorry, but I'm still bitter and still hate her guts), I surmised that he loved only her and not me. There was no room for me. So, DH's defence of SD="I don't love you or value you at all, SD comes way above you. You don't count, only she does and you have to take abuse for me to stay with you."

I'm not even sure it's words in my DH's and my case, but how we're interpreting them based on our own issues. I guess the words go through our filters/issues and we jump to conclusions and think our spouses are asking us to do the very thing we fear the most.

theoldredhen's picture

Yo, Evil3,

That post was downright eloquent (redhen drops a curtsy).