The Jean Jacket
I proposed to Sarah when we were both still in college, and she said yes. While still engaged we got a hint of how husbands and wives can get into arguments over practically nothing.
That first Christmas Sarah made me a jean jacket. Yup…you read that right. She MADE me a jean jacket!
I opened the box, held up the jacket, and thanked her.
“You don’t like it,” Sarah said.
I looked at her with great perplexity and answered, “I do too like it.”
Adamant, she said, “No you don’t. You aren’t excited.”
Taken aback, I sternly repeated, “I do too like it.”
She shot back, “No, you don’t. If you liked it, you would be excited and thanking me a lot. In my family we say, ‘Oh wow, just what I wanted!’ There is enthusiasm! We get excited!”
That was our introduction to how Sarah and Emerson respond to gifts. Sarah will thank people a dozen times when something touches her deeply. Because I did not profusely thank her, she assumed I was being polite but could hardly wait to drop off the jacket at a Salvation Army collection center. And after she’d spent countless hours slaving over her sewing machine to custom-make it for the love of her life!
As for me, I felt judged for failing to be and act in a certain way. The whole jacket scenario took me by complete surprise. I felt as if she didn’t really like who I was.
Though neither of us clearly discerned it at the time, Sarah was feeling unloved and I was feeling disrespected. See how quickly – and how simply - this happens? Male-female differences, combined with different communication styles make for the perfect storm when we least expect it.
Will you take note of your differing communication styles this week and remind yourself to cut your spouse some slack? It may keep you off the Crazy Cycle of conflict!