I want to share something that happened between my husband and me this week that highlights a really common conflict in marriage…the face-off between those who want to talk and those who want silence. Dah dah daaaaaaaah..here we go.
So the other night went like this. My husband gets home I’m making dinner and the baby is on and off screaming …
Me: “Hey babe, how was the day!?”
Him: “Eh it wasn’t that great.”
Me: “Oh no I’m so sorry, did something happen?”
Then I proceeded on with 20 or so questions trying to peel back the layers of my husband’s day as I’m ironically preparing onions. Little did I know that my probing was just seriously annoying the heck out of him.
I mean his voice was getting louder and louder and his tone a little more irritated but I thought his agitation was at me asking the wrong questions or our teething baby screaming or you something other than me actually showing a genuine interest in his day.
But, you know, I’ve been wrong before and so we play hot potato with the baby until finally we surrender and he starts making dinner. Mind you, my husband cannot cook. He ate tuna and easy Mac every night in college for dinner gross!
So I’m trying to instruct him while I calm the baby but it’s like my voice is somehow drowned out by his inner thoughts and he, again, puts the ingredients in the wrong pan. He comes to and finally hears me saying, “Hey babe, that’s the wrong pan.”
He tosses the spatula up in exasperation and says, “That makes no sense… all the onions are in the other pan. Why onions in both!? Why didn’t you tell me?”
So I say, “Ummm what just happened? And I did tell you but you didn’t hear me or weren’t paying attention. So I guess this my fault too!?”
BOOM! I said too much!! He grabs the baby and walks out the front door.
Yeah, he took the baby… so, you know, it was like a weird fight with a mini vacation.
So I do what any normal person would do which is continue the fight in my head while banging the pans around loudly just for dramatic effect. Seriously, I am in trouble for showing an interest?! The nerve. I would love someone to grill me about my day vs being the rambling woman I usually am.
After we tuck the kids in and finish up the dishes, we talk about what happened.
His defense was: “I told you I didn’t want to talk about it and you seemed offended.”
I say, “Well it wasn’t that you said you didn’t want to talk. It was that you were acting so irritated at me way before you said that.”
He says, “So if you could tell that I was irritated, why did you keep asking me questions?”
Hmmm you make a very interesting point (but I didn’t actually say that muwhahah).
I respond: “I guess I thought it was the bad day that had you irritated (not me) and I just wasn’t asking the right question.”
I’ll save you all the rest of the details + it all got worked, but it highlighted a really common issue that comes up in most every single couple’s marriage…needing talk vs needing silence.
So let me break it down for you. Here are some lessons I learned from the night I annoyed my husband…and a couple I’m hoping he learned too.
- Sometimes my husband needs quiet. And sometimes he doesn’t want to come home to an inquisition. He may just want to have a moment to unwind without rehashing his day. I am not wired like this, don’t get me wrong, I love alone time but I like to talk about my day. My husband, not so much, he likes to zone and play with the kids. And that’s ok. If your partner is like this, then show them some love when they get home and then kindly offer them the option to veg for a few before they re-enter the home-sphere. It’s a really small way to take care of someone you love.
- Sometimes being direct can save your feelings. If my husband had told me straight up when he got home, “Hey I don’t want to talk about my day right now,” then that would have saved us the entire argument. Or if I would have said, “You seem annoyed, what’s going on?” then he could have told me earlier that he didn’t want to talk. So yeah, communicating clearly to your spouse about what is going on in the moment, can save a lot of grief and prevent a little issue becoming something much bigger.
- Sometimes I really need to talk. Good day, bad day, routine day… it doesn’t matter, I want to talk about it. Even the days I spent sitting with clients for 8 hours in a row, I wasn’t burned out on listening and talking. I am an introvert, but I love me-some-one-on-one-conversation. Now to those of you who are not this way, hear me out. When my husband shows an interest in my day, it helps me to feel known and loved. It’s a super small gesture with a really big return.
- Sometimes if you’re too tired to talk about your day, then just ask your partner some questions. For those of you who just need to have some time when you get home, take it for goodness sake. But when you are done recharging…challenge yourself to ask your partner a few questions about their day. It will rock their world and it’s not that hard.
Hopefully, our off-night can spare you an off-night in your own relationship. As hard as it can be, the best relationships are ones where we become an expert in what our partner needs, and work to respect and meet those needs. The need to talk and the need for silence is so often a conflict for couples, but if both of you truly understand and respect each other… magic!
So are you struggling with what to ask your partner at the end of the day? Click below for a list of 10 questions to get the conversation started!