I reached for the lever to drain the water out of the bathtub and heard my husband chuckling through the bathroom door. I was curious what he was laughing at but not surprised as this is part of our daily routine. Every night while I go through my hour bedtime ritual in the bathroom, Chad lays in bed and takes advantage of the opportunity to watch whatever he wants on TV without me interrupting with things like, “Will you change the channel? You know I don’t like Sci-Fi” or “it’s a commercial, turn back to The Big Bang Theory.” When I finally emerge from the bathroom and climb in next to him, I can usually count on the fact that he will be watching a hunting show, sports, or the news, but this particular evening I was completely caught off guard.
From the level of laughter I heard coming through the bathroom door, I honestly thought he was watching an old throwback movie with Adam Sandler or Dumb and Dumber. Those movies are the kind that can get him belly laughing so imagine my surprise when I walked out and saw him watching the kids movie, Minions. I was a little bewildered to find a grown man not only watching a cartoon but finding it hilarious too! I watched the movie once (with my children!) but didn’t remember anything about it so I thought maybe I missed something.
I pulled back the covers, propped up my pillow and watched these little yellow critters waddle across the screen mumbling things I couldn’t understand. I looked over at my husband and for a hot second thought to myself, “Who are you?” After a few minutes of me just staring at the TV with a confused look on my face, he changed the channel – obviously noting I was not enjoying it as much as he was. I don’t remember what he turned it to because my mind was preoccupied with the thought that sometimes I feel like our level of communication is much like those little minions! We both shuffle around in the same house day after day hearing noise coming from each other but having no idea what the other person is really saying! If this goes on for too long, we get frustrated as we are only bumping into each other and not really connecting.
Connection requires healthy communication that goes beyond simply exchanging words. We must be intentional about becoming an effective communicator. Everyone can talk and everyone can hear, but not everyone expresses clearly what they need or receives the message the other is sending unless each person is responsible and safe. I am 100% responsible to express my feelings and, on the flip side, be an emotionally safe person for my husband to express his. If I’m not regularly telling Chad what I am thinking or feeling, our connection gets blocked by frustration, anger or resentment because my expectations are not being met. Equally important, I must receive his thoughts, feelings and ideas in an accepting, positive and non-critical way so he can feel safe to share his real self with me – only then is true connection established.
Let’s help each other grow from waddling, mumbling minions into healthy individuals who “say what we mean and mean what we say” and “receive messages in a safe, non-threatening way” so we can maintain and enjoy connection all day!
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.” ~Proverbs 17:27