"By the way, you left the garage light on last night...and I turned it off."
The heat rose from my sternum to my temples. Every cell in my body wanted to scratch his eyes out. I wanted to teach him a lesson. I wanted to mince him with my words.
That would have been so easy.
My now husband had come down the stairs and said this to me one Saturday morning about 1 year into living together. 𝙏𝙃𝙄𝙎 WAS THE FIRST THING HE SAID TO ME.
I was enough into my graduate work in Marriage & Family Counseling to know responding the way I really wanted to wasn't going to be helpful.
I took a second to pause, to figure out what I was hearing and why my heart sank when this comment fell out of his mouth. I mean, did I really want to start a fight over a GARAGE LIGHT?!
Or was that even what this was about?
I sat silent. I probably looked confused.
After a few minutes I said curiously, "If Nikol had stayed the night last night, and she had left the garage light on...would you let her know that she had and that you had turned it off?" Nikol is a mutual out-of-town friend of ours who we both respect and adore.
He paused and thoughtfully said, "Huh, no I wouldn't," with a side-dish of his own confusion.
I asked, "Why not?"
He didn't know.
"I'm not sure, but I think it's because you and Nikol are friends and you and I are starting to become enemies."
He couldn't see my intent clearly. It felt like his intent towards me had changed. I was feeling misperceived and acted out on more often. I could have communicated in the cleanest, most-textbook, I-statementy way and he probably would have heard criticism and snapped back with defensiveness and I would have done the same...let the attack-defense cycle that gets you nowhere begin.
I could feel we were sliding down the slippery slope.
Soon after, we headed to our counselor's office to tease out what he needed to not feel that way about me. He couldn't verbalize it on his own, and I wasn't skilled or detached enough to get it out of him.
It turns out, like so many of the couples I've sat across from in my office over the years, it was a pile up of a lot of little things (I cannot even remember what they were now) - the cumulative effect of which had become some very invisible and very sticky poop-colored lenses. It had nothing to do with the stupid garage light.
It's so easy to get here. SO easy.
I think that's what most people don't get. I think most people believe that being a 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩 means I don't have to worry about miscommunication.
I assume miscommunication ALWAYS. I understand how ridiculously easy it is to miscommunicate, misperceive, and misread intents....throwing off track conversations and, over time, ENTIRE relationships.
That one mindset shift helps me not take things so personally and to be less reactive 😉 ...and weirdly assists in my ability to clean up miscommunication quickly to get conversations back on track.
Relationships don't just break one day. They break really slowly and really sneakily over time...but so often it's so unnecessary.
This is why I've created the a 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗳𝗹𝗶𝗰𝘁 𝗦𝗨𝗖𝗞𝗦 𝗢𝗻𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲. I don't think clear communication with the people we love the most has to be so hard. I break down some ridiculously big ideas into practical and actionable strategies so that you can start creating a relationship you LOVE.
It's time to dig those rose-colored glasses out of the junk drawer....and to get your best friend back.
You deserve happy relationships,
LEARN MORE -->> www.mikaross.com/conflict-online