by Wendy Keller
Jim told me not three months ago that he was “madly in love” with his second wife and his “brilliant” stepson. They’ve been married about eleven years. I knew him when he was married to his first wife. He was single-again in between for about a year.
Imagine my surprise when he wrote me a few days before Christmas to tell me that he is getting a divorce! He won’t tell me the details, but it appears they aren’t “madly in love” anymore. I have no idea what happened, but I can guess. I’ve known him for a very long time – he is a man who simply won’t listen to anything he doesn’t like. He shuts other people down the instant they try to raise anything counter to his own version of reality.
Not listening makes it difficult to be in a real relationship.
It makes me sad for him, for her and for the stepson. When my former husband got his second divorce, I saw the havoc it wreaked on his life, her life, and that of all the children (his, her and ours.)
Maybe I’m being naive, but it sure does seem like the root cause of relationship malfunction boils down to dishonest communication. One partner ignores the other person’s attempts at communication; doesn’t say what they really want, need or think; neither of them tell the whole truth; or one or both of them outright lie – perhaps to “save the other’s feelings.”
The more lies you tell,
or the more things you don’t say or hear
when they are supposed to be said or heard
the bigger the pile of drama and twisted emotions.
It won’t end well.
I was married for a decade. I’ve been divorced now for nearly two decades. Here’s what I observe in the couples I know: dishonesty. Either they are withholding things, or saying absolute lies. Promising things they have no intention of keeping. Nagging people to change when they obviously don’t have any intention of so doing. (My mother has been married to my step dad for 40+ years and she is still incredulous that he doesn’t leap out of bed daily (at age 74) eager to handle all the little chores she set for him that day!)
Why can’t people just tell the truth? Surely, telling the truth is SO much easier in the long run than trying to cover up dishonesty. As a single woman, the married men who approach me usually aren’t just looking for a fling – they want someone who will listen to them. I notice that people who end up having affairs are the ones who aren’t “heard” at home. Telling untruths to others is a short-term strategy that wastes a lot of energy and causes a lot of heartbreak down the road.
Why don’t people listen, communicate honestly,
and tidy up their miscommunications?
It’s such a tragedy! There can be no good outcome!
Of course, in theory, marriage counselors help people hear one another at last. But in real daily life, in our relationships with our friends, grown children, partners, co-workers, bosses, parents, lovers, etc things would be SO much smoother if we spoke the truth, every time, in a loving, respectful way – and took the time to hear others speak theirs, too.
Just for today, make a commitment to speak the truth with love to every person you encounter.
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