Posted: April 27, 2015 in Personal Story
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I didn’t really grow up in a home that had a great deal of communication.  Sure we talked.  We spoke at each other more than spoke to each other.  I never really learned how to have a healthy conversation.  My home life didn’t really prepare me for how to have a disagreement in a way that could be constructive.  I had to learn all this when I was an adult.  In fact I learned it after I went to jail and was forced to learn it or lose my relationship with my wife.

In all my life, to this point anyway, I would have never guessed the importance of healthy communication.  It truly is the foundation on which we can build a great relationship.  Without it there is no way to be understood or to understand needs.  If I approach all communication with my old ideas of how it’s done I will not get very far.

I felt at one time that to have a conversation meant one person spoke and then another.  With no real connection or meaning.  I had very surface level transactions of words.  I was afraid to dive deep into myself for fear of judgement.  I thought if I expressed how I really felt that people who see this and use it to mock me.  “Oh poor baby has feeling!”

In this way I was able to keep people at a distance.  I was never forced to see them as real people.  I could control my world much easier this way.  As soon as someone becomes “real” with thoughts, feelings, and emotions of their own, control becomes almost impossible to maintain.  What better way to stop this then with shallow conservation.

As I learned to be more present and allow myself to be more open a wonderful thing happened.  I learned it was ok to be human. I was allowed to “feel” ways about stuff and junk! (Futurama reference)  I had closed off my ability to have a real conversation for so long I had forgotten I could have an emotion other than anger.

I also found that when you open up about who you are people actually want to be around you.  I never thought this would be the case.  I always assumed that no one wanted to know the real me.  Honestly because I didn’t know the real me.  Turns out he is a pretty great guy!  He has emotions, he can express them in a healthy way.  This was all new ground for me.

I learned I can have a disagreement with someone with out the need to yell.  We can both express our views, see the validity in each others ideas and then allow the other to feel that way.  I no longer feel the need to call someone stupid for having a different view than me.  I now love to argue because I no longer feel the overwhelming drive to make the other person agree with me.

This has opened a whole new world with my wife as well.  I can express my needs to her in a way that allow her to not feel pressured to meet them.  The old Matthew only knew how to express needs through demands.  If these demands were not met I would place a consequence on her.  Now I can express when I have a need that is unfilled in a healthy way.  For instance, I enjoy us both going to bed at the say time.  I enjoy the intimacy of laying next to her as we drift off to sleep. I express this as a need now by saying “I really enjoy the closeness we share when we can go the bed together.  I understand if you are not ready to lay down now.”  The key difference now is this is not a challenge.  She can feel free to stay up and know that she will not have to deal with my rage later.

Communication is essential to our healthy relationships, both friendships and intimate.  In the Recommended Reading section I have a few great books that I have read that have really helped me learn to communicate better.  I invite you to check them out.  Please share with me what you have learned about this wonderful skill below.


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