Learning From Ms. Understanding (Part I)
By Jim Mitchell
Ever play the telephone game? Everyone lines up and whispers the same sentence down the row, each repeat giggled over and jumbled more than the previous.
Remember how it always turns out? The kid at the end inherits all those misunderstandings compounded into something so nonsensical, everyone cracks up at his retelling.
Sometimes I feel like my wife and I are playing that game at home. Just the two of us.
Hint: I’m the kid at the end.
Her mind will get to racing. She’ll start talking faster than my brain can listen to four rotating topics at a time.
In an effort to slow things down and understand, I’ll ask her to repeat something she just said.
Too late. Words spoken have already been replaced. We’re going around the horn.
“I need to shop for groceries, but I’m not sure what to cook this week,” morphs into, “I need to stop at the grocery store later, because all the kids ever eat is junk food.”
Close, but that subtle change at the end feels important.
I’ll push in further, only to hear, “We never talk about our budget, and I’m worried about my mom.”
Aaaaaand I’m completely lost.
Live with my wife in an understanding way, you say? (1 Peter 3:7)
The harder I strive to understand, the more I drill into her words … and the more I drill into her words, the less she feels understood. It’s our own communication death spiral.
Fortunately, this only happens when we try to talk to one another.
Seriously, the struggle is real. I’m trying! But my trying is often word-centric, not person-centric.
In my mind, I’m parsing and analyzing sentences. In her mind, I’m parsing and analyzing her. It’s like dissecting a frog—the teacher is impressed I’ve labeled everything correctly, but the frog isn’t.
So where does this leave me? Frustrated, but determined to learn and grow.
More on what I’m learning tomorrow in Part II.
THE GOOD STUFF: Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. (2 Timothy 2:14)
ACTION POINTS: Think of your most common frustrations in talking with your spouse. What Christ-honoring pattern interruption can you throw into the mix to begin charting a new course?
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