And by “My feelings are hurt” I mean “You’re a loser”.

The night before our first premarital counseling session Mark and I were in the middle of one of our biggest fights ever. What about, you ask? About whether we needed premarital counseling or not.

Mark: You’re a freaking counselor! You of all people know that this is a good thing for us.

Marie: Bull. Sure, premarital is great when you’re just going because your pastor is making you. We’re going because you think we have problems. And we don’t. have. problems.  We are going to make our relationship better.

Mark: Yes, better.  Better in that we’ll work through our problems.  We’ve been arguing about counseling for the past 3 hours. It’s 2 o’clock in the morning. WE HAVE PROBLEMS.

Marie: Well, if our problems are so big that we need counseling, why on earth are we even talking about marriage?!?

Mark: Because I love you!

On the surface it does look like we’re arguing about counseling, should we go or not. But that wasn’t what was happening. At least not all that was happening.

In my family, things that are broken get thrown away or are ignored. Once something is broken it is seen as useless and has no hope for repair. Buying a brand new something is seen as the only solution.

Mark’s family is infinitely more creative and resourceful. He loves problems, and is more likely to become inspired rather than defeated when something breaks down.

Discussing premarital counseling caused these two world views to collide. And the fact that these two world views had the same vocabulary did not help.

When Mark said that we had “problems” that counseling could help “fix” I did not hear just that.  No, I heard an underlying meaning.  The meaning that said we had “problems” and that he was moments away from throwing our relationship away.  Just like how my family throws things away when they break, rather than trying to fix them.  I did not want to throw anything away, so I was not about to say there were problems.

Mark, on the other hand, saw me freaking out and refusing to acknowledge very obvious “problems” in how we communicated (what do you mean hysterical crying doesn’t accurately convey the message “You’re a loser”?).  He simply wanted to fix them, and my resistance sent the message that I wasn’t “in it to win it”.  He had already been down the “I don’t want to deal with problems” route, and wasn’t interested in going on that trip again.

One of the biggest mistakes in communicating with anyone is thinking that our definition and history with a word is the same as another’s.  There are words and phrases in every person’s life that can pack an emotional punch that no one sees coming.  Sometimes we are so unaware of our self that we have no clue that we’re reacting to a word or a phrase instead of the present situation.

I think we were still fighting when we ended up in the counselor’s office the next day.  So not how I planned on our first session of “we’re so in love” premarital counseling going down, but whatever.  We ended up learning some really great communication techniques that helped us better prepare for the inevitable world view collisions.

What words or phrases seem to consistently set you off?  What’s the history with the word or phrase?  How wrong is it, exactly, to call your husband a “donkey butt”?  What if it was said in love?

7 thoughts on “And by “My feelings are hurt” I mean “You’re a loser”.

  1. Rebecca says:

    Such a great post, as usual. I totally love how open you are because Ryan and I have been going through similar problems. A lot of the time, I tell him, “But if you could just word what you’re saying a different way…” Ha.

    • Marie says:

      Rebecca, thanks! And that’s exactly what I’m talking about! I can be completely cognizant that Mark is NOT trying to hurt my feelings or make me mad, but there is something about the words he chooses that touches a nerve with me. I can’t explain it.

      I will say that we practice the whole “reflective listening” thing where we have to stop and acknowledge how the other one is feeling. Most times it works great because he can clear up where I’m mis-hearing, and it focuses him on the emotional side of the conversation which is almost always more important to me than the actual content. Now our fights can start sound more like a really bad episode of “Dr. Phil”. Which is not good, but it works for us 🙂

  2. Marie, this was a great post! Thank you.

    It actually reminded me of a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago regarding how people think about things–goods–in life. You have “disposable” people who consider even tables and chairs, for instance, disposable if they get nicked. Whereas someone with a “durable goods” perspective would think it sacrilegious to toss something so minimally damaged to the curb. This would be the impetus to get out the refinishing tools and “nurture” the furniture back to a pristine condition.

    I had never considered how this same principle of “disposable” versus “durable goods” mindset could be extrapolated to relationship dynamics. Thanks for sharing that insight!

    • Marie says:

      Brianna, thanks for the comment! And I am absolutely amazed that there is a name for how we approach dinged up furniture, that’s so cool. I also love the phrase “nurture back to a pristine condition”. I’m going to have to tell Mark that that is now how he will present so-called problems to me, “We have to nurture our relationship to a pristine condition”. I like it. 🙂

  3. […] And by “My feelings are hurt,” I mean “You’re a loser”, […]

  4. This is such an amazing post. Very insightful. The argument in my house is that my SO speaks pink and I speak fuchsia. (so close but so very far apart) She very bluntly tells me like it is, while l like to pretty it up a bit. 🙂

    The fact that you are able to take a step back and see the argument for what it is, and see how your and your mate’s backgrounds affect how you communicate is something to be proud of.

    One thing that I’ve learned while being in an adult relationship is that those nuances matter. Just because we both speak English doesn’t mean that we are speaking the same language. Sometime I KNOW I hear the words my SO says but my emotions, my environment, and yes, my childhood, color what I actually hear.

    I have to specifically remind myself of what I actually heard, so that I don’t get an attitude over something I “understood but didn’t actually hear”.(I can’t get mad unless she actually does something wrong 🙂

    And to answer your question: Anything that sounds like criticism send me over the edge. And god forbid that someone say “you’re wrong”. Flames may come out of my mouth. I’m (trying to) learning to not take myself so seriously.

    • Marie says:

      Monica, I love that phrase “color what I actually hear”. Communication is so much more than just the words, it’s all those variables you listed out. And your SO is lucky you take the time to separate what she actually said compared to what you “heard”, or thought you heard anyways 😀

      Thanks for a great comment, and I’m so with you on the criticism thing. I am not sure why he still hasn’t received the memo letting him know I’m perfect and not capable of wrongdoing. 😀

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