Coffee in my Left hand…Communication in my Right
One of my readers (wow, that sounds so good, like free Ethiopian roast coffee with cream) suggested I write about communication, since it goes hand in hand with Love.
If you are over 30, chances are you have sat in on, listened to, or read about the communication between men and women. If you are over 40, I can promise you that you have; at either a college rec room, or a bookstore community room, or some nightclub disguised as a forum for building up relationships instead of their profit margin. That last part may be a Chicago thing, but trust, it’s a thing. If you are under 30, well just let Auntie Vonn teach you something about the challenges you’re going to have up the road, once you stop DM’ing each other. You’re welcome. Today’s views surround the question “why is communication so difficult with our partners and how do we make it better?” I use the word partner intentionally, because no matter your sexual preference, communication in a romantic relationship can be harder than that problem on the blackboard in Hidden Figures!
Now if you think you haven’t engaged in discourse about communication, perhaps it was wrapped in “men vs women; why our relationships are failing”, or “women who nag and the men who tune them out”, or “what’s wrong with relationships in the ____” insert 80’s, 90’s, millennium, etc. here. Regardless the title, many problems with relationships boil down to COMMUNICATION.
If the problem is money, it’s really the secrets we keep about money and how we speak and make the other feel about money. I can only hide those Louboutin shoes for so long before the credit card bill hits. Fellas, dropping $200 every weekend buying rounds is an $800 “what you mean you’re low on money, you STAY in the club all the time” conversation waiting to happen every month.
If it’s sex (ok, if you’re reading this and you’re my daughter, stop. Mommy doesn’t know anything about sex and neither do you.), either someone wants it a different way, more often, less often, or at all. Often times the “your hair is always on the sink!” argument is really a conversation that needs to be held about the bedroom.
Nagging, the silent treatment, passive aggressive or aggressive aggressive; these are all forms of mis-communication. So, what do we do to make things better?
First and foremost; trust the relationship. Often we don’t say what we feel out of fear of hurting the other person, or appearing vulnerable or just plain ole getting broken up with…lol. If you’re in it (for real, not like the one I have with Idris; hey Driis!), trust that you agreed to be in it because there’s genuine feelings there. Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m concerned about the amount of money you spend. Let’s talk about it once we get the lights turned back on”, or “last night, you slept through all my new tantric, ‘A’ game, guaranteed to make ’em holler moves; what gives?” Seriously, we avoid small situations that turn into huge episodes of Snapped because we didn’t trust our love or our mate enough to bring it up early on.
Next, watch your tone. I know I drape a lot of things in humor, that when I’m angry can come off as snark, sarcasm and cutting. Jesus is working on me; don’t send me any “Amen” emails. BUT since I know this, I try to edit my speech in my head before it comes flying outta my Chris Rock-ish mouth. You too know what your tone violations can be: loud, speaking through clenched teeth, sassy, condescending, etc. If I didn’t name yours, you’ve already named it and just didn’t see it. Treat your relationship like it’s something that matters to you, speak like you want to be spoken to. Lots of those panel discussions boil down to feeling dissed and dismissed. If your sentence starts with “Imma keep it 100” or “Don’t take this the wrong way”, or their equally destructive cousins, just stop and start over. You have a right to be heard, but your vitriol is not guaranteed you by the constitution. Matter of fact, we’d all better check that consti…never mind, I’ll save that for another time.
Last: try not to sweat the small stuff. If everything in your day has to go your way, you are in a relationship with a very difficult person: you. Disconnected electricity and coma sex are big things that need to be worked out ASAP. Toothpaste caps and popping gum are probably things you thought were ‘charming’ in the beginning and have lost your eternal right to complain about. When new issues come up, ask yourself “If I were being filmed right now, what would the kinder version of myself say or do?” then say or do only that. Ask yourself “self, does that hideous tie or her talking during the movies really matter in the long run?” Pause. Okay, that talking in the movie thing drives me insane; you will not go to a movie with me twice if that’s your thing. But, that aside, you get where I’m going.
Crappy stuff happens in life, and it spills over into our relationships daily. Growing apart happens, falling in and out and back in love happens. Disagreements happen in every relationship. The quicker you learn to communicate with each other, decent and in order, the quicker you’ll learn how to be with each other peacefully. And when necessary, argue then come back together peacefully. Driis and I can’t stand to see you all fighting like that…