Friday, March 17, 2006

The (lost) art of Conversation

I receive an email which gets my temperature boiling. It’s something I must discuss with my hubby. I take a deep breath and tell myself to broach the topic with stealth and diplomacy. I do – to begin with. However, after about 10 minutes all semblance of civil discourse has flown out of the window. We are not exactly having a blazing row but we are definitely having a heated exchange. And then I draw back and with both guns drawn, I do what all women do best when all else fails and the flood gates of anger cannot be held back any longer – I begin to drag up old grievances from the beginning of time and start firing them off. I have totally lost focus and been side tracked by pent up frustrations and hurts which all come tumbling out in a torrent of barely comprehensible words. I have lost my cool. I have lost my calm and I realise I have lost control.
Husband feigns ignorance, looks confused and becomes tight lipped. And one week later, I’m still seething, the atmosphere in the house is somewhat icy to say the least and a satisfactory conclusion to the conversation is yet to be reached.

But this got me to thinking: Why do we (women) allow ourselves to get to the point where we lose all grip on our emotions that we have to resort to delving into issues that are centuries old and dragging them up to see the light of day in order to fuel the flames of our anger. Women (am not saying men don’t but I am focusing on women here) almost always seem to fall back on this good old faithful – when all else fails, drag up issues from 10 years ago. It’s almost an unconscious habit that we have. There’s nothing like calling to memory a perceived slight which happened in the past to keep the adrenaline pumping.

And when a conversation turns to an argument then an altogether different element is introduced – the element of competition. Ha! We think, someone must win this argument and it has to be me! It’s human nature and in order to insure victory you’ve gotta pull out all the stops. And I mean ALL – look we are talking WINNING here, another point on your score card, another trophy on the shelf, another battle scar to be worn proudly.

But is this win worth it at the end of the day? No, not really. Why? Because I would rather have peace in the house than another victory trophy on my shelf labelled ‘I won this round’. However, this is not to say that I am going to lie down and roll over for the sake of peace, oh no, nobody is walking over this female especially when I know I am right! What I am saying though is that females have to devise a better battle strategy. A better grade of ammunition to fire off when the going gets tough. And these are a few ideas I have come up with.

  1. Never go into battle seething. If something gets your blood boiling, give yourself a cooling off period. If you approach a battle – oops, I meant conversation – already angry you’re bound to lose focus somewhere down the line.

  2. Never let resentment build up. Pent up resentment is a ticking bomb and one day it’s bound to go off – and most likely at a most inappropriate time. Sort out issues immediately. Don’t give yourself a week to ‘get over it’. If it has really peed you off, discuss it, sort it and let it die its natural death. But make sure the issue is settled completely because if it’s not then you are more than likely to drag it up again sometime in the future.

  3. Talk, talk, talk. If you are not ready to talk to your partner just yet, call up a trusted friend and pour your heart out to her. Apart from helping to release some of your pent up frustrations, you’ll probably leave her presence with another perspective – a more rational one.

  4. If you have this in you then – Write. Pour everything out onto those blank pages. It helps. It really does. And then tear it up when you are done.

  5. If face to face discourse doesn’t work for you then send an email to your partner. List all your grievances (remembering to stick only to the relevant ones), fears and hurts and hit the send button. Caution! Keep a check on those fingers as they fly across your key board and try not to come across as a raving nutter! However, I won’t advice that this method becomes your preferred form of communication. Let it be an exception rather than the rule. Nothing can ever substitute for real heart to heart verbal communication between two people.
  6. And a word of warning ladies. No matter how much you want to – do not involve any sort of family member. HUGE mistake. Keep all disagreements between your and your partner. Do not breathe a word to them. Anything you share with them (whether with your family or with his) can be taken into evidence and used against you at a future date. As far as they are concerned all is well in relationshipsville. Alright?!

Okay, I’m off now to implement Number 5.


Blogger Biodun said...

I totally relate...n am making a note 2 use all these tactics...lord knows its hard 2 keep ur cool...but one just has 2 try i guess

2:51 pm  
Blogger Stephen Bess said...

I've only been married for 3 months so we haven't had our first "big one" yet. We've had a couple of spats, but nothing too serious. Yes, women have brains like computers. They have stuff filed in chronologically and can download them when needed. My goal is to reduce my "screw ups" so that she will be forced to deal with the issue at hand. :) I know...not a chance. Have a great weekend.

4:48 pm  
Blogger Pilgrimage to Self said...

Congratulations Stephen! Yes indeed, you have to tread very carefully now. :-) married life is fun but there are lots of things people never tell you about that happen once rings are exchanged.

8:43 pm  

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