Communication between spouses (or partners)

For those of us who have been together for more than a few years, mutual communication sometimes takes interesting paths. My wife accurately accuses me of speaking too softly. What I learn later is I may think she heard what I said, but she may have been too tired to follow-up when I spoke too quietly. So, when I mention I told her something later, she will respond that she does not remember me so doing. This is a version of husband or wife deafness, where you may not hear everything of what is being said. I do it as well.

My wife and I both do the following and that is ask the same question we were asked earlier in the conversation. We get tickled by this, but it will follow a pattern like:
– I will ask “Do you want to leave earlier?”
– Conversation ensues and circles back
– Then she will ask “Do you want to leave earlier?”
– “That is what I asked you.”
– Then we will both laugh.

The funniest communications occurs when neither one of us can remember the name of an actor or actress, a movie, a restaurant, an old friend or colleague, etc., but we both will know what we are talking about. It is a coded language where certain references can get the point across. The dialogue will make no sense to a casual observer, but communication has occurred. It may go like “do you remember that place in Winston-Salem which had that desert the kids liked?” And, she will know.

As for actors and actresses, Iphones have simplified our lives, abetting our memory loss. We can search on the show, look up the cast and find that movie we were trying to think of or the co-star. Yet, it takes some of the fun away with the added clarity. “Isn’t that the guy in the Allstate commercial?” will start a search rather than a discussion.

Finally, couples have a form of non-verbal communication or short verbal clues to pass along a mountain of information. The cue could be touch on the arm, a pinch, a pat on the leg, a small shake of the head, etc. “Don’t go there” is a key message when a sensitive subject arises with a third party. Plus, the other spouse may not be supposed to let a third party know he or she knows a confidential matter. Or, “it is time to leave” is another key message, which comes in handy at the other spouse’s office holiday party. Or, my wife will whisper “don’t bite” when someone is trying to start a political argument.

Let me know if you have some of these communications. I am sure all couples have their own variations.

14 thoughts on “Communication between spouses (or partners)

  1. Been a long time … 34 years … since I had a spouse to share such communication with, but my daughter can finish my thoughts and sentences for me … sometimes she knows what I’m about to say before I even utter the first word! Sounds like you and your wife have such a special relationship!

  2. My wife and I can simply say a word or a phrase and start laughing. If others are around they probably think we are nuts. But after more than 57 years together there is much left unsaid that communicates clearly. Thanks for this post. It is fun stuff.

    • Linda, I shared your compliment with my wife and she laughed. My brother loves to argue, so it is a nice gentle reminder to not join in the argument. Keith

  3. When one of us uses the wrong word eg : ‘kitchen’ instead of ‘bathroom’ the other one normally doesn’t raise an eyebrow but has tuned into the meaning.
    When I hear ‘Yes dear’ in ‘that’ tone I know full well it is time to drop whatever topic I was on.

      • Lasting relationships depend on the words that are edited out before they reach our lips. What texters don’t realize is just because you think it, does not mean you should say it (or text it).

  4. My husband and I (almost 30 years together, 17 of those married) have a lot of code words or phrases, inside jokes, and triggers that we “mostly” avoid setting off on each other 🙂 . I love the comfortable, often non-verbal, communication we’ve developed over the years.

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