How to talk to your spouse seems quite plain and simple on paper. It seems like you and I should know what to do, like it’s something that should just come naturally. Easily, even. And yet, it’s sometimes not as simple as it seems. If you are one of the many people who don’t exactly know how to do this, keep on reading. But first, I have a dare for you. (say what?)
I dare you.
I dare you to pick out a card, one that you can more than tolerate, and write a note from scratch.
With Mother’s Day past, and Father’s Day fast approaching, the way I see it, there may be an opportunity around the corner. Maybe you and your spouse are celebrating your anniversary. It IS wedding season afterall. Perhaps you are attending a wedding or you are in one. Maybe it’s the graduation card for someone whom you have watched turn something poor into great.
Whatever the case, I dare you. I dare you to pick up a pen and just write.
Maybe you remember having had a similar experience. Or two. Or five. I have spent countless hours at the card stand at Papyrus, Target or the grocery store. You know the scene – you pick up one card after the next, without success. You leave an hour and a half later, frustrated and still with nothing to show for it.
What happens to me is this: I would either love the design 100% and hate the wording or the other way around – tolerate the text but hate everything else about it. The worst ones are the ones where they are almost good to go but then one word or phrase or paragraph just plain ruins the rest of it all.
And it makes sense, right? When you think about it, how can someone – a lovely lady or gentleman – sitting behind a lovely desk somewhere in a lovely faraway land (or state) know what YOU would want to say to YOUR spouse, your best friend or grandfather for that matter?
They try to guess. They do the best they can. They try to make it sound pretty. They put effort into making an impression. But it only works on a limited number of occasions.
When I was growing up on the other side of the Atlantic, there was no such thing as pre-written cards that required you to do no more than add your tiny little signature on the bottom of it. No such thing. We didn’t have that kind of luxury. If you wanted to write a card, you bought one with a design you liked and then wrote your own message. Every time.
I don’t know if it’s better one way or the other. But I know this. It forced a person to think about what they wanted to say. Nobody did the thinking for you and me.
And yes, it probably took longer. I remember writing a draft of the card on a scratch piece of paper so that, as I was thinking about the words, as a composer of sorts, I would not end up scratching words out on the card that was to be sealed and gifted. Sometimes it takes a while to say what you want to say. And yes, only you can say it. Because only you know the complexities of the present situation or the details of the past. Because only you know the person your card is addressed to. They might a friend, a son or daughter in-law to someone else. But they are only your spouse.
And saying something to someone you care about means something. In fact, it means a lot. Particularly if that someone is the father of your nieces, or the person who raised you or the friend who stood by and never disappeared during the tough times. Or it’s the person who, after publicly or privately promising to stand by you – however many moons ago that was – stuck with you through the thick of it and is still standing close by.
Consider this. If you could speak your heart – what would your card say? How would you as a couple come out on the other side, greater and closer together for having connected with the other in a meaningful way? Can you even imagine the impact?
Instead of signing your name and agreeing to agree with a prescribed message, write a letter. Or a card. I dare you to fill up all the empty space. Use real stationary. Or don’t. It doesn’t have to be eloquent beyond measure, unless that’s who you are. Your partner in crime wants the real you to shine through. Make it your advantage. Make it a point to stand out. It’s going back to being intentional and making time to talk to each other.
Improving your communication may include getting in touch with this lost art of writing that we have been hearing about. What do you think? Would you accept the challenge?
I guarantee you victory.
Because that’s one way you can start grasping how to do this thing – how to talk to your spouse – in a real and meaningful way about big things, and small things and all the other stuff in between.