I’m beginning to see a pattern: couples in trouble because one partner wants a verbal intimacy that the other is not interested, capable of, or ... able to fathom.
Last night, I spoke with a close male friend, who yakked on like an interesting, articulate magpie about the nuances of his troubled relationship with his girlfriend.
Her complaint: he doesn’t talk to her.
His complaint: she goes nuts on him.
“I don’t even remember what I said,” he tells me over hot chocolate, “but I guess it was the wrong thing.”
Get your head on, boy! The least you can do is pay attention.
In frustration, his girlfriend sometimes:
Kicks him out of the apartment, and seethes for days.
Yells at him in an escalating fashion.
To be fair, he really doesn’t know what she’s talking about, or he forgets, especially in those moments of crises. In relating the situation to me, he seemed surprised by her reaction:
“Suddenly, she started yelling at me.”
He was not able to draw a line from his behavior to her response. He did not see the connection. His concept of the big picture is all a-fuzz.
Listening further, he revealed the root of the problem,
as common as it is profound: he is afraid.....
....that she will leave him.
Honey Jock! This is the very definition of neurosis:
to create through your actions the very thing you fear.
I don’t think communication walls are just a man thing.
This impasse is not sexed.
I know men who complain about women for the same reason.
A few days ago, I was speaking to a female friend. Let’s call her Charlotte Bronte. Well, Charlotte was tormented with this issue concerning her wife. Yes, her wife. Relax. This is Massachusetts. Her wife would not or could not provide the deeply intimate, imaginative communication that Charlotte craved. Her wife wanted to talk about laundry.
You know, metaphorical laundry without the metaphors. The practical stuff, not the soul stuff. The couple had tried therapy for years and Charlotte told me that she had ended up sounding like an unhinged looney tunes. No one, not even the therapist, could get a grip of what Charlotte was freaking out about.
And poor Charlotte Bronte was starving...
Charlotte and I agreed that this deep communication, talking not just talking, is, to us, like manna, the miraculous food supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness.
I brought this subject up with another couple over dinner.
“Does he listen and remember what you say?” I asked.
“Remember?” She laughed heartily. “He doesn’t even hear it.”
“Be fair,” her husband warned.
“Okay,” she replied, “He listens....when I’m talking about sex.”
So, this Valentine’s Day, why not surprise your Valentine with what that girl or guy really wants. And your Valentine will be grateful, and eager to please. I’m telling ya.
Dr. John Gottman speaks of the four horseman of the apocalypse when predicting marriage failure and success.
The four horsemen that predict failure are as follows:
Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling and Contempt.
If any of these horse are affecting your relationship, could a lack of manna could be involved?
show courage, open your ears, open your mouth, open your heart,
and see what little bit of Heaven may follow.