Saturday, October 06, 2007

Read my lips

I'm in the trenches here and I need advice from the veterans.
Mr Renn and I are having "communication issues"
He says I talk too much and I say he's stopped listening when I talk. (And when you spend all day with a 1-year-old having the one adult in your life stop listening to you is a bit of a bother)

Lest I get anybody all worked up or afraid, we are far far from genuine "crisis-level" - I'm working on early intervention here.

All of this is more or less catalyzed by the craziness known as the 2nd year of dental school, a.k.a. "widowmaker".
Mr Renn is really busy. He has an insane class load and is actually managing to do really well. He also has a rather time-consuming assignment working with the Boy Scouts and the youth in our church, and he loves it. Plus he loves to play with Oliver. He pretty much should be studying all the time, but he does try to slip in a few social interactions. Overall I'd say he's doing a tremendous balancing act, and doing it very well. The only thing that is straining under the heavy load seems to be his attention span when I am talking to him. My frustration is that I feel it should be one of the last things to go instead of one of the first.
He says I talk to much and he just can't stay focused for as long as I can talk.
Maybe I should become a dispatcher.

But really, real-life folks... what are some tips for bridging the communication-gender-chasm under pressure?

And while we're at it, any tips for dealing with loud obnoxious neighbors that wake you up between 2 and 4 every night with either loud motorcycle engine revving, offensive music, or intoxicated brawls? I'm sure that the lack of quality sleep is affecting both of our abilities to communicate.


Deena said...

As far as obnoxious neighbors, other than talking to the manager, I guess you could call the non-emergency police phone number and complain. I can't stand inconsiderate neighbors.

On to the communication issue. We dealt with this a few months ago. I totally understand Renn is overscheduled (nothing can be done about that), but you are (should be) his number one priority. I see this as a place that he needs to buck up and deal with the fact that his wife has had no one to talk to all day. (Our babies are cute but horrible conversationalists.)

Does he engage in the conversation or just try to listen while doing other things that steal his attention away? I don't mean that he needs to sit and stare at you and hang on your every word, but if what he's doing while you talk distracts him from you, he needs to take a break and listen. It's what husbands have to do because it's what we need. No one likes to be ignored.

That's my take on it. Sorry if it's too straightforward/pushy/bossy. It's obviously a sensitive subject for me.

aLi said...

I heard something one time that I try every now and then.
Whenever guys hear, "We need to talk," they panic and shut down. Your situation may, on the other hand start out with, "Guess what happened today, Mr Renn?" To alter or fix the shutting down process say something like, "Have you got 10 minutes to talk/listen to what happened today?" Give him a timeline so he knows what effort he's gotta put forth. Of course he loves you, he's just soo comfortable around you that he can probably predict what you're going to say so he tunes out. You're invisible! If you need him to just hear you ramble or vent, warn him and give him a timeline so he knows how long he needs to put forth the listening skills effort.

Annoying neighbors? Hmm. I'm a scaredy-cat when it comes to confrontation, but Josh would go and ask them nicely to be quiet. I say do what glittersmama says!!! Call the authority!

tracy m said...

Hmmmm. This might not be the popular answer, but if a man is enmeshed in the Widow-maker year of dental school, maybe having a calling like YM or Scouts isn't the best way to buoy up his family.

All the GA's and and Church stuff says a calling is important, but it comes AFTER family obligations. I know how much time youth callings take, and right now, I can't imagine if DH had a Scout calling. I see him so seldom, it would be a hardship on his own children if he were gone even more.

The fact is, you and Sir O. are more important than any calling. Yes, serving is very important, but maybe there is a less stressful way he can do so.

That said...

Men and women communicate differently. Men go to their caves, and we women chit-chat to figure out who and where we are. It seems like it's almost biologically wired. I've had to, at time, just tell DH I need him to listen. Not solve, not suggest, not anything, but just listen to me. It's hard for a man to do that, generally, but he has an easier time listening when he knows I don't want him to DO anything at all.

The other thing to keep in mind is that marriage, much like faith (I've found) is a series of peaks and valleys. When we were newlyweds, I would panic when I hit a valley- now I know it's part and parcel of the ride. We are committed,and neither of us is going anywhere, no matter what. That makes it easier to deal with down time- knowing it will be short.

If you need to talk, you can always call me. I've said it before, but I really mean it. I'm here for you.

sgt. pepper said...

I would admitt it is my about 95% my fault and should make more time. The 5% of the problem is the times when she does try to talk to me when I am either concentrating on driving or when it's late at night and I am really tired. But what other times does she have? You guessed it, not really any. So that being said, I just need to allow more undistracted time so she can get a word or two in. My apologies. And thanks to you all who read and relate with Em, it makes a world of difference.

Vanessa and Rebecca said...

Hee. I feel silly commenting after St. Pepper but I will anyway.

This was exactly what 2nd year was for us too. Kev literally studied from 7am until 2-3 am trying to figure out a way to pass. 2nd year Georgetown med is also a widowmaker year. I tried everything to get him to talk. He tried to give me time but after a few weeks it seemed like I was just adding the list of burdens he had to deal with. Nowadays whenever anyone askes how med school was I always say 2nd year was the hardest on our marriage. Kevin says I'm blowing it out of proportion but for me it was brutal. It was so incredibly hard for me to try to bouy him up, keep the family running and put my needs on hold because I felt that I was adding to his stress level. I often felt like yelling "what about me?!" During one of our conversations on why we weren't communicating (and I'll bet he has no recollection of this) he said that he was so stressed trying to think of so many things that his mind couldn't settle down to the mundane things of what happened at home. He'd try to listen to what happened but then he'd be like "ack! ok what are the (insert scientific name for part of the body) and how do they react with (insert other scientific name)." He did try, really he did. I could see him trying but at the end of the day the 5-10 min wasn't what I needed. I tell everyone that I meet that is starting a program or already in it, especially 2nd year, this is when you need to find a close friend. A close girl friend that you can talk to every single day, several times a day. She needs to be your support. Everyone always says med/dent students wives need a support system. This is what they are talking about. It's like you feel like you're drowning and there's no rescue. Your support system is what keeps you afloat (or at least loans you her diving mask to breath). DH is drowning too. He's trying to balance everything. It's hard to realize that even his best, sometimes isn't enough. This year Kevin knew he couldn't give what I needed so he tried other things to make it up to me. Every so often on his way home from school he would stop at the grocery store and just buy me something to make sure I knew he was thinking of me. Usually it was a diet coke, which I love. It was something small, our budget couldn't handle much but a $1.20 or a $.60 candy bar once a week it could handle. Sometimes he would make me a paper flower. When you are in this valley it makes the world of difference. You need your support system. Mostly we want to know that dh still loves us and is thinking of us.
The support system was hard for me. I didn't have one in place when 2nd year hit. This was totally hard for me because I wasn't a girl friendy type of person (I am now) but it was excruciating for me to find someone that close. The girl that was my friend knew I needed her and was the best. May I suggest, if you don't already have a friend like that find someone you're kind of close to then tell them what you're goign through. You'd be surprised how much they step up to look after you.
I know it is so incredibly hard. It's frustrating and at the same time makes what marriage is all about, sacrafice. Dh is sacraficing for you. His time and energy so that you won't have to deal with this the rest of your life (I have quite a few family members and friends who do deal with this because they didn't do it in their early years... read very challenging schooling). You are sacraficing for him and he knows that. It's obvious he cherishes you and loves you so much. That's what counts. That's what's needed at this time. The rest is incredibly, bang your head against the wall, scream at the top of your lungs, then cry, hard but put your support system in place. You'll get through it. I've always considered 2nd year our refiners fire. It's a bear.
Sending you lots of love and hugs. feel free to email me your phone # and I'll call you and be a long distance buddy.

ps. 2nd year is when I started blogging as an outlet for my talking. :-)

samunwritten said...

I'm probably the last person who should be giving communication advice. All I do is roll my eyes and yell at people to get to the point.
I don't recommend that you try it.
But I'm at least trying to be helpful. I've given you a good example of what not to do.

Kristen said...

honestly, i have found that i get much more fulfilment in my communications with my girlfriends.

I will call a friend every day, and usually I'll see a few of them a couple days a week. I can "get my words out" (apparently women have this psycological need to speak about twice as much as men do), and then when dh comes home i don't overwhelm him with information that he finds uninteresting. :)

hairyshoefairy said...

I think everyone has given you such good advice. I still sometimes get upset when I'm having a discussion with NYDD and he nods off because we're already in bed. When this happens I feel like he doesn't find me important enough to listen to and it makes me crazy. But I can't talk to him any other time cuz he's doing other things.

Basically, I want you to know you're not alone. It sucks, but I've been/am there and so have quite a few other people.

I agree with Tracy, it may be worth the two of you discussing your situation with your bishop. Perhaps it's time for someone else to serve the scouts. And I often have to do what Tracy does in telling NYDD how I want him to respond while I'm talking to him. Most of the time it helps us, I think. And I fully support Nestle's idea of finding a really good girl friend you talk to every day and can get some fulfillment that way, though don't totally abandon Mr. Renn for conversation. It's so freakin; hard to find that confounded balance! Arg!

As a few other people have said, you can call or email me if you want. I know about the whole phone anxiety thing. I have it, too, but for you, I'd totally answer the phone. :) ((hugs)) You're not alone.

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