I'm sure there are lots of posts on this issue, but there are just too many post to wade through. For those of you have been around awile, I apologize for bringing up what I am sure you have heard many times, but I reallt need some advice.
My wife and I have so many struggles over communications. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I have many issues with the way SHE communicates. She doesn't seem to think there are any issues at all, except that I keep telling her I have issues.
The issues seem to be too many to go into here, but three common ones are:
1. She comes home from work, says "How was your day?" I say "Fine." And then without missing a beat she launches into a "core dump" of everything that happened to her, without taking a breath or seeming to want or need me to say anything in response. I get exhausted ljust listening to her. The thing is, I am interested in what she has to say, but to stay engaged, I need to PARTICIPATE in the conversation, if only to be able to insert some reflective comments now and then, such as "Wow, that saounds great"" or "That must have been frustrating," Or even to be able to make some clarifying statements to ensure I understand what she is saying and to help me stay on the same page as her. Her style of talking does not enable me to do any of this, so I end up feeling "Talked AT" rather than "talked TO" and so I either lose interest and just detach (which she doesn't even seem to notice), or else I find it infuriating. When I try to express this to her, she either gets defensive - thinking I don't want to hear what she has to say or she says "I have to talk that fast or I am going to forget what I have to say." I have tried different tacts, from "Honey, would you please speak a little more slowly, I'm having trouble keeping up." to "please stop talking for a minute. I can't get a word in." Sometimes she says "OK" and then just keeps on talking, and other times she gets upset and stops talking all together. Other times she'll say something like "I'm sorry, I just don't talk in "Kathy-speak." (My name is Kathy.) When she talks to me like that (very fast and non-stop) it feels like she is shooting words at me with a machine gun. It is clear to me that she doesn't need, or want, any comments from me. And I find myself wondering "Why am I even IN this conversation?" This is beginning to really get to me!
2. We have a conversatin and I make a clarifying comment, like "So you missed the meeting?" and she hears it as a request for more detailed information and says sometihng like "No, I looked at my calendar and it wasn't there and I assumed the meeting had been rescheduled but Diane never called me so I went to the library to talk with Carol about the problem she was having and when I got back to my office there was a message from John wondering where I was because the meeting had started." And I think - isn't that just what I just said in 4 words? I was just looking for a simple "Yes." This kind of thing happens very frequently, where I make a comment indicating "I am with you" and she responds with "No . . " followed by lots of detail about whatever Ijust said, rather than "Yes, and . . " and then moving forward with the conversation. We seem to always be "getting stuck." It is clear to me that the "conversation conventions" I normally use do not work with my wife and I am wondering what conventions I might use instead.
3. I think of a conversation as a give and take - you say something, I say something in response, you say something in response to what I said, and so on. My wife thinks of a conversation as: I say everything I have to say while you listen, then you say everything that you have to say while I listen. Her style of conversation is very difficult for me, as when she talks I want/need to make clarifying statements to make sure I undersatnd what she is saying, make empathetic reflections in reaction to the emotional content of her statements, ask clarifying questions when I'm not sure what her subtext is, etc. And as an introvert, I am just unable to talk non-stop without input from the other person. Also, if the other person is NOT participating in the conversatin I start to feel like I have lost her, that she is bored, that her mind is wandering, whatever.
OK - This is a lot for one post, I know. But that is an indication of how overwhelmed I am feeling right now. And I know SHE is also overwhelmed, as she feels that she can't talk tome without me telling her she's not talking in a way that works for me, which is becoming more and more true - so she feels constatntly criticized, rightfully so. So in addition to the issues I am having with our conversations, I am falso aced with not knowing how to talk to her about these issues without her feeling criticized and getting upset.
Finally, I have to say that these things did not seem to happen in the beginning of our relatinship. (We've been together almost 3 years, married for 6 months.) I have no recollection of mere conversations being such a struggle, where now they always seem to be. It didn't used to be such WORK just to have a conversation. I'm not sure when it BECAME such work, but I am to the point of wondering why I didn't notice this earlier, because it is beginning to make me feel that while we are SO compatible in so many ways - not being able to enjoy a simple comversation makes me think we are in real trouble. And now I find myself not knowing how to NOT attend to this when we are in a conversation, and so I am almost constantly aware of it, which makes it even worse. How can I be in the same room with her and NOT notice all these things that have become hot buttons?