Have you ever been talking to someone and realized not a single word coming out of your mouth is getting past the eardrum? Me, neither.
We choose those with whom we speak with a modicum of care. We tend not to tell our physician about the rigors of being a soccer parent. We know the grocery clerk is not a good audience for our loan-worthiness. Similarly, our taxidermist is not our primary conversationalist for dental care.
Mate is different. When we chose Mate, the tacit acceptance was no conversations were out of bounds. Frankly, we needed all topics to be in bounds in order to choose Mate in the first place. What happens when Mate is the one with the impenetrable eardrum?
Our first instinct is to give the benefit of the doubt. We make an appointment with the audiologist and drive to be sure Mate attends. On pins and needles, we await the results of the test. No, Mate does not need a hearing aid.
Surely Mate is not consciously ignoring us, right?
For the next phase, we investigate every possible scenario we can imagine. Was it some traumatic childhood experience which makes this discussion taboo? Perhaps a visit to the in-laws will shed light on what could possible make Mate turn down an opportunity to talk to us about what we feel is (important, interesting, leading to important or interesting).
Sorry, Watson. Moriarty did not do it.
Stop assuming you know why Mate does not appear interested. Often, and sadly, our last effort is the one where we should have begun, even without the taxidermist’s take on orthodontia. The moment we get the horse to open its mouth, the answer is clearly right above the tattoo.
Rumors have it men speak around half as many words in a given day as women. Every relationship is different. Are you Wordy Mate? Perhaps Mate has already met the daily quota of words available to be heard and processed.
No matter how excited we get about the second law of thermodynamics, Mate is still a Dr. Who fan. Mate’s disinterest in the plausibility of the premise is not a character conviction. Maybe next time we can discuss the special theory of relativity or HG Wells. Mate may well join with enthusiasm.
Hardly anyone goes first to believing an adult may not have the conversational experience necessary to carry on a conversation. More people have difficulty keeping a conversation going than would seem possible at first blush. With the prevalence of undiagnosed ASD, many adults have a hard time transitioning a discussion to the next topic. On the surface, it appears they either do not care or are not interested. Neither is true. Simply put, they have no experience.
We do not need a new Mate. We need a new way to communicate with Mate.
- Choose topics of higher interest.
- Discuss low interest topics with others.
- Keep conversations shorter.
- Ask more questions (keep Mate talking).
- Help with conversation transitions.
Very little change on our part will lead to improved communication with Mate. Once we identify the problem, the solutions become clearer to both Mates. The shared load will improve many fronts. It is simply a matter of speaking the same language.
Which communication breakdown do you most often encounter? How have you attempted to overcome it?
Whilst this post deals primarily with communication in marriage, the techniques are equally effective with children, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, family and all the M3 Players.
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