newer [to me] thoughts on communication.

I am non confrontational to a fault. There are lots of good excuses stored up in my brain as to why I bite my tongue when perhaps I shouldn’t. I don’t want to nag. I can be a good listener this way. They’ll probably figure this out on their own, I don’t need to be the one to point it out. I’m not their mother. I’ve got my own issues, I don’t want them to think I’m perfect. I want them to like me... etc. etc.

Some of these reasons are valid and intentional and have a place and purpose. In most of my ministry meetings with teens, I usually try to listen the first few times we hang out – I really want to hear their story and their heart and am tentative with instruction or rebuke. I believe I am wired this way as a youth leader and have found that I am able to speak truth and instruction into their lives when I know them and listen first.

However, in marriage and in close friendships, there are times when I probably should say something and don’t. I am insistent on not being a nag in our marriage. I tell myself that I’m choosing my battles when I let things go that bug me. Some of this is good. I would rather focus on enjoying my husband than dwelling on his faults. We are frequent communicators and often kind in the way we communicate (not always, but usually). BUT… But. last night my husband gave me a new perspective on communicating and why it is important for me to remind him about things that bug me.

He is particular. I am not so much particular. He wishes I were more particular. I resist particularity… Until we’ve talked about particularity enough that I acknowledge there are habits he has that drive me a wee batty, and that maybe JUST MAYBE I am also particular. JD asked me to share some of the habits that annoy me, but that I rarely address because I don’t want to become naggy mcnaggerson. Ahem clothes pile that permanently resides on his side of the bed...

… Annie I need your help. I don’t like those things about myself. When you talk to me about them and remind me that it frustrates you, it helps me to be a better person…

My husband is a humble man. I am less humble. I have a hard time with criticism and rebuke. It crushes my spirit to know I’ve hurt someone or acted inappropriately or just plain sinned.  For me to think of communicating reminders about things that bother me or that I see as a need for growth actually makes my stomach nervous. But his perspective allowed me to see truth speaking, rebuking, loving criticism, etc (whatever you want to call it) as good and just and maybe just maybe – God inspired. It is helpful to JD for me to kindly remind him to clean his desk and pick up his clothes because he actually wants to work on them to bless me as my husband. He’s so good.

By the way, for you Friends fans, our whole conversation made me want to exclaim, “and nagging WORKS!” Anyone? Season and Episode? I’m looking at you Christie and Jess…

In our five and a half years of marriage, I’ve had plenty of conversations with wife friends who have frustrations with their spouse. More often than not, when they actually get to talking about their frustrations, the spouse wants them to communicate how they can better help. Ten times out of ten, this is the case in our marriage as well. There are plenty of ways to graciously communicate desires without nagging. And if hubs wants it? I can accommodate.


*JD read this before I posted. He’s just fine with the world wide web knowing about his clothes pile. To be fair, I leave water glasses on my nightstand until they pile up enough to play scales by clinking them. Drives him crazy.


2 Replies to “newer [to me] thoughts on communication.”

  1. Annie, three things:
    1) JD and I must be related because I, too, have a perma-pile of clothes in our room.
    2) I started laughing after reading that you STILL leave water glasses on your nightstand after all these years 🙂
    3) As soon as I read “and nagging WORKS!”, I could hear Monica in my head and see her clear as day…though sadly I cannot come up with a season number for you.

    Loved your thoughts on communication and the other person’s desire to hear from us in order to grow. It takes a lot of trust and humility to make that work, and I’m so happy you two have that in your marriage. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I read an article in a magazine several years ago about communicating in marriage. Being married to a “counselor” I have often tried to “fight fair” “watch my voice tone” “choose my words carefully”. The point of this article was interesting. Couples who always try to communicate “correctly” don’t do as well as couples who just spit it out and clean up the mess afterwards. This was a great relief to me because truthfully – I’m lousy at doing it correctly. I communicate in whatever way I can at the time it needs to be communicated. Because Ron and I love God and firmly believe in mercy and forgiveness – it usually works well. If I’m exasperated…I’m exasperated! If I hold it in too long – it’s not good.

    So good you are learning the dance of communicating with tihe one you love. I am a lifelong student in learning that dance.

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