Oh the extremes…partner communication failure and break through

Ying and Yang, Up and Down, Katy Perry’s Hot and Cold, good evil… Oh yes…the world has it’s opposites and extremes. I remember sometime after college there was a you-tube of this guy going around where he charted the attractiveness (‘hotness’) of a woman verses her mental stability (‘craziness’) and made the case that it was a positive and linear relationship.  I guess it could be taken offensively but I was not offended by it (i’m a geeky Math and Econ girl, I focused more on the chart!)

hotness craziness matrix link

hot vs. crazy

Whatever you may think of that guy and his theory, I think he may have a more general point about trade-offs, physical appearances aside. Anyway, my husband and I got into this chat the other day after I had a tough week.

Basically the premise is this…

  1. Some people in this world are really even keel, don’t really show getting overly excited, nor overly upset, are more quiet in social settings, ride their emotions more like gentle waves of the Outer Banks.
  2. Other people have bigger swings, get supper excited and happy then can get really low and frustrated even at a little tension, are more outgoing and social butterflies, surf emotions like the big kahuna waves and Mavericks.
  3. Us and a bunch of our married couple friends consist of one of each

My husband and I have been married now for 11 years and dated a while before that.  We have seen each other change a bit from college to early working life into building our own family and think understanding this helps us understand how we are alike and different.  For a long time though this didn’t click.  But now it is a hallmark for positive communication between us. Maybe there are other ways to explain this, or maybe you don’t see it but it seems to work for us.

Most importantly it is in how we react or show these opposite emotions, not necessarily in how intense we feel them.  I have every confidence that my husband gets just as happy/frustrated inwardly but he just doesn’t react outwardly as much as I may.  I used to get upset if my husband didn’t react enough when something was bad, or if we went out with friends and he was quiet…like he didn’t want to fix something or he was having a bad time, simply because he didn’t express the same intensity I would expect.  Then I realized he was evenly thinking about options and having fun but was just quiet.  Then one day when something went really well, he said he really appreciated how I celebrated it and it was worth how strongly I can react when things are not so good…like a trade off.  Suddenly it made more sense to me.  You can only have the highs if you have some of the lows.  And no, it doesn’t mean that I or others who can relate are diagnosably bi-polar or that extreme, it’s more that however happy you outwardly can show, chances are you can equally show being unhappy.

Neither type is better or worse and neither is an automatic communicating expert. Both people in any relationship have to work at communicating to the other. Rather, I believe that knowing if you are both of the same or different types may help you communicate more effectively to the other or at least understand why they are reacting so strongly or weakly to something.

If I think my husband is upset, I ask, he won’t really show it otherwise. He typically knows when I am upset as he sees it clearly, but I have encouraged him to always ask me too as often I can show more frustration/excitement that I truly (or logically) have. Just being someone who can get more hot & bothered initially but then take some breaths and cool down, I feel the direct questions always help.  It doesn’t have to apply only to partners, it works with close friends and colleagues too.  Kind of like, do you prefer phone calls, email or what sap? Coffee, tea, kambucha? Beer or tequila?…Should I take all reactions at face-value or ask how deep this river runs?

So that’s a personal one about communication failures.

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