Same Dictionary, Different Meaning

Do you often feel like you and your spouse are speaking a different language? You say one thing and he hears something completely different? Well, sorry to put it to you like this, but that is exactly what is happening. Because you have different backgrounds and experiences, different educations and beliefs, you think in different terms.
There are six different kinds of messages that go back and forth in any dialogue.
  1. What you meant to say.
  2. What you actually said.
  3. What your spouse hears.
  4. What your spouse thinks you said.
  5. What your spouse says about what you said.
  6. What you think your spouse said about what you said.

My husband and I had the funniest, most frustrating conversation the other day about the materials we needed for our deck. We were talking about the same things, using the same words, but not comprehending a single word of the conversation!
We must have gone around in circles for fifteen minutes until – lightbulb – we finally understood each other! Turns out we were in complete agreement on which materials we needed and how we wanted the deck to look, but it took us fifteen minutes of arguing to figure that out!
If this sounds like you and your spouse, please don’t throw in the towel. There is one technique that my husband and I learned (the hard way) that you can use to figure out just what the heck the other person is saying, without all the frustration.
Like, really listen. Don’t hear the words that are coming out of your partner’s lips. Don’t plan what you’re going to say before your spouse has completed her sentence. Don’t go down some rabbit hole and start thinking about recipes, work, or the game.
  • Face your partner.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Listen without judgement.
  • Restate what you understood.
  • Interpret your partner’s emotions out loud to see if you understand them.
  • Ask for your partner to clarify anything that you are confused by.
  • Listen to the answers.
As with anything, practicing these skills makes you a better listener. If you’re having a very difficult time communicating with your spouse, practice this for five minutes per day. Get in a quiet place and spend five minutes communicating.