My husband Thom thinks he’s a regular handyman. He loves to “fix” things like re-wire lamps, unclog dishwasher parts, and make trash drawers slide like they’re supposed to. I affectionately call him “Mr. FixIt” because most things he “fixes” with the best of intentions, end up slightly better in some ways, but still essentially broken.
His real passion, however, is yard work on our land where he gets thrills from chopping down trees, hauling brush, seeding and mowing lawns, and generally riding around in his tractor, happy as a clam. What all this “work” requires, however, given the loud equipment he uses, is a pair of industrial “earmuffs,” supposedly to protect his hearing. But I’m convinced the muffs are for an entirely different thing – to block out my constant requests that he do this or that. I have therefore affectionately, (but I think, aptly), named the muffs “THE WIFEGUARD.”
As a couples therapist and relationship coach, I think my husband has devised a unique marital tool – a perfect way to ignore me without ever having to say anything hurtful or rude. When I shout requests at him, he either doesn’t hear me at all, and just keeps doing his thing, or he smiles at me quizzically, shakes his head, makes a motion that he can’t hear me, and cheerfully keeps going. Occasionally, when I wave my arms and make faces, looking really adamant about being heard, he takes off “the Wifeguard” momentarily and shouts, “What???”
How can I be mad, married to such an industrious, clever guy?
PS. For access to a somewhat more traditional marital tool, you can get a copy of my newly published book, “I’m Talking! Are You Listening?”Fix Communication Problems With Your Partner In No Time Flat! You can buy it on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/Qprh8v
I had a hilarious psychotherapy session today with a middle aged “salt of the earth” couple who were bemoaning the pervasive preoccupation with cellphones among the younger generation. They talked about how teens and “twenty-somethings” in particular were guilty of communicating primarily via technology. They had hired some young workers for their business, and discovered that these “kids” no longer even talked on their cellphones –(too personal!)– they only texted, did it all day long on the job, even did it with the phones in their pockets! The three of us lamented the loss of personal contact among people, and the increasing depersonalization in our society. The husband then referred to our generation as the “last of the ‘face-to-face’s”. We all cracked up, I told him this was a funny-sad, priceless depiction, begging to be shared, and we all moved onto other topics. But it made me think about the truth in the statement. Has personal contact become a quaint vestige of the past, (particularly the ex hippies)? Has an entire generation discarded something precious– face to face conversation, complete with eye and ear contact? And what’s the consequence? Daniel Goleman, in his book “Social Intelligence”, thinks we’re moving toward “social autism”, and that studies indicate it’s effecting our brain structure, and even immune function, which is impacted by the quality of our relationships. Scary! How to fight the tide? Use technology as a tool, not a barrier! Be mindful of when you’re connecting with your phone, and not the live person in front of you! Limit “screen time” for yourself and your children! Have human face-to-face conversations! Anyway, before I get more carried away, I have to sign off. (My husband went to bed an hour ago, and here I’ve been, all cozy “talking” to all of you.) Hmmm………….
Goodnight and good luck,
PS. For more of my thoughts, insights, and tools for relationship issues, go to my website: www.HowToBeABetterCouple.com and for live discussions about relationship dilemmas, go to my BlogTalk Radio show, “The Couplespeak Relationship Forum”. The next scheduled show is on Wednesday, Jan. 12th at 10:00PM: “Sisters– The Good, The Bad, And The In-Between”. It should be fun, and informative!
I hope you had a restful and fun July 4th weekend, and if you spent time with your family, you enjoyed them! This isn’t usually about having perfect relationships, it’s more often about setting boundaries which insure that your personal space or couple’s space is honored. This can be as simple as making it clear what arrival and departure times work best, or what to bring to an occasion. It could be as sensitive as giving cues about what subjects are off limits, or what would feel indiscreet. If you are refraining from drinking, setting good boundaries would involve first being clear with yourself about why, and what your action plan is, then if offered drinks, graciously making a “no, thank you” clear to your family. Setting boundaries in relationships protects you and your loved ones from undue hurt, humiliation and anger. And if family members don’t honor your boundaries, you might consider whether your requirements are too rigid or harsh, or if you may need to consider another “venue” for contact which may more readily provide more protective structure. And don’t fret– it takes practice to learn how to do it with finesse, so chances are, if this July 4th was a wipeout, next one will more likely be better.
P.S. Check out my published articles about relationship issues at: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Susan_Lager
Also, look for my soon-to-be-launched website full of couple’s resources at: http://www.howtobeabettercouple.com