Monday, November 26, 2007

P4E.050 Communication Breakdown

"Whut we have heeyuh, is fay-eh-yuh to communikite"
The Captain - Cool Hand Luke

I don't want to give you a false impression.
On the one hand, I realize that self-deprecation is a staple in my blog. On the other hand, I don't want you to think that I'm always a failure. Every once in a while, I slip-up and do the right thing. Many times I relate past behaviors or behaviors that I'm really trying to get a handle on. The thing about the flesh is that it's such a natural inclination for me, that if I don't keep a constant vigil on
it, I will return to it in a heartbeat.

I am not naturally a relational person. This has been a revelation to me. This self-awareness has helped me to remain open and teachable. My wife and others have helped me to see patterns in my behavior when it comes to relationships.

One of the things that I've learned that I do is that I "shut down" towards my wife for any and all types of reasons. Shutting down means so many things:

- I stop talking
- I stop listening
- I stop eye contact
- I disengage
- I become inwardly focused
- I build up a callous shell that keeps me from recognizing others emotions and my own
- I become careless with my words
- I lose perspective
- I get whiny and immature
- I get dark and cold
- I get defensive when confronted about shutting down

In short, there's a failure to communicate. What I'm learning to do is to recognize when this is happening and to take steps to "reboot." Recognizing when I'm shutting down takes a certain amount of self-awareness that only comes with practice. "Rebooting" many times involves humility.

It may start with my apologizing for having shut down and just having recognized it. I re-engage by making eye contact and focusing on my wife and trying to see things from her perspective. I listen to what she is saying and what she is expressing. What is she feeling? I try to stay open and teachable and not get defensive. I try to examine the reasons why I shut down. What am I feeling?

I talk, but I'm careful with my words. There's an old carpenter's motto that goes "measure twice, cut once." This is wise counsel when it comes to what comes out of my mouth. When I'm in the spirit, I think twice before I speak. I stay away from saying things that start with "Well, if you really want to know what I think..." or "Let me be brutally honest..." or "You always..." or "You never..." or "Why can't you just..."

I suppress my desire to be an "individual" and to renew my vow to "become one flesh." I consider my opportunity to put my wife's thoughts, wishes, desires and ideas before my own. That's a more spiritually mature attitude that puts others interests before my own.

Do you ever struggle with "communication breakdown?" Is my experience helpful to you?

Your ally in the pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim


  1. It is good to ask that question "why?" Why am I shutting down? Chances are, there are good reasons. Though getting past the reasons and into communication is surely a discipline!

  2. Great post! We all struggle with that problem. I've found another technique which has helped me with this same issue. You may want to try it. It is a contemplative prayer (meditation) technique which helps cultivate the spirit of Christ (loving kindness or compassion) in our hearts and minds. There is nothing "religious" or "supernatural" about it. It is very simple and very effective. You can hear a description of the practice here.

  3. Kim,
    Great thoughts here. Amen, and thanks.