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Experiment to improve communication in marriage

(64 Posts)
ThemeNights Mon 01-Jul-13 22:32:56

I am a regular but have NC'd for this thread, my first in relationships.

So, things are not all rosy in the Nights household. Married 8 years, one DC aged 5, general low level narkiness with each other occasionally blowing up into big row. We love each other but can't break out of the cycle of competitive tiredness, one-upmanship etc. I have recently uttered, with deadly seriousness "I can't live like this." So things have to improve!

Borrowing an idea from a friend of a friend, I have proposed something new. Each night after dinner and DC is in bed, we work together on a particular theme of family life. E.g. Monday - family finances and admin; Tuesday - housework/DIY; Wednesday - shopping lists etc.

One night is set aside for fun when we don't do any jobs but do something together, even if it is slumping in front of a film on TV.

DH has been dismissive, sarky, reluctant, protesting but with some cajoling from me, we made a start tonight. It was a moderate success, we got some stuff done and we had a civil conversation smile

I thought I would start a thread to record progress / success / failure. And to see if anyone has done something similar?

Scarletohello Mon 01-Jul-13 22:44:52

Try this book, Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. He was a psychotherapist who mediated between gangs in LA and between The Israelis and Palestinians so knows what he's talking about! Ok now I know you guys aren't at that level but he's really skilfull in getting people to listen to each other. Give it a try!

cece Mon 01-Jul-13 22:45:29

I once listened to a radio show about how the wife should agree with her DH and not cause him stress.... hmm

So on arrival at MIL house for the weekend I proceeded to agree with all DH suggestions. DH did not notice but MIL was a bit hmm at me and asked me what was going on! LOL

Hope it goes well for you.

poocatcherchampion Mon 01-Jul-13 22:51:29

I think it is a good idea but think every night seems an awful lot. I'd say maybe once or twice a week is more sustainable?

ThemeNights Mon 01-Jul-13 22:51:29

Scarlett grin thanks for the tip. Does it work if only one of us reads the book?

Thanks cece, I'm not ready to become a surrendered wife, and DH is quite capable of causing himself stress in the calmest of circs.

cantreachmytoes Mon 01-Jul-13 22:53:40

I had a go at this at one point. I wrote loads of questions/conversation topics on small cards and put them in a box. During dinner (just the two of us), we had to pick some out and ask the other person. It was rather forced conversation, but did work in terms of breaking cycles. Didn't do it as often as we could have though.

I second Rosenburg. I haven't read his book, but he's got a NVC course on that I'm working my way through. He makes you question yourself, how you phrase things, whether you're being clear or not (mostly not in my case!) as well as how to listen better to other people.

cece Mon 01-Jul-13 22:55:11

I only lasted a day - I found it far too difficult. grin Especially as DH didn't even notice!

LittleFrieda Mon 01-Jul-13 23:25:27

Why don't you just call a friend or female relative? grin.

Scarletohello Tue 02-Jul-13 00:01:58

'Does it work if only one of you reads the book?' Well if course it would be great if you both did but if you read it and apply some of the techniques in it, it would make a difference. Slightly concerned that your partner wouldn't read it tho, how much does he actually want to improve your relationship..?

wannabeawallaby Tue 02-Jul-13 00:05:36

Chores, paperwork and boring stuff six nights a week? That sounds horribly unappealing. Can you prioritise, and dump most of it?

Mixxy Tue 02-Jul-13 01:12:50

I like the constructive aspect of this relationship building. I'll be following.

wannabeawallaby Tue 02-Jul-13 07:54:16

Rather than just one night for fun, can you each have a night off for yourselves - I know it's your relationship that needs work but maybe if you were both a bit happier and relaxed in general things might change? So you could go to an exercise class or pub with your friends or whatever it is you fancy. And the other is on child and house duty. And still have your one night a week - date night. The paperwork can be done whenever - again one night. Could you afford a cleaner? This gets all of the chores out the way and you don't need to do it or argue about who does what.

ThemeNights Tue 02-Jul-13 09:05:43

Just a quick update before I start work - sorry for not name checking everyone.

DH doesn't read books. I suspect he is undiagnosed dyslexic but his previous career (he is SAHP, I AM WOHP) meant his reading / writing didn't matter. Although even if he did he is probably of the opinion that NVC was all a bit woo.

DH doesn't think the problem is as big as I do. We communicate very differently. He thinks rows can be healthy and cathartic. He always feels better after one. I brood and sulk and feel awful.

We probably could afford a cleaner but the problem is I don't really know. We don't really analyse our finances so we don't know where our money is going - so that's one of the jobs smile

We both have separate leisure time - fitness classes etc. But one of the causes of the rows is that important things aren't done and one of us says "so you have time to swan off to yoga but not pay the milkman" when the other person didn't even know the milk bill was outstanding.

Oh, and it is week nights only, so only 4 out of 7. The plan is to be able to just enjoy the weekends, not spend them doing jobs. And when the lump of dis-organisation and chaos is overcome I suspect it will only take an hour or so most nights.

ThemeNights Tue 02-Jul-13 21:52:45

Day 2

Tonight went better I think. It was home admin theme night (wahay!). We sorted out some long standing paperwork and booked some train tickets for a weekend away to London next month before they got too expensive.

TBH we were both shattered so only managed about 30-40 minutes before giving in. But communication seemed a little better.

Scarletohello Wed 03-Jul-13 00:28:13

Well done! Have you ordered that book yet ? I promise you it will help ( not nagging ) smile

ThemeNights Wed 03-Jul-13 08:50:17

Just ordered it on Kindle so can peruse at lunch time. I have to admit I'm sceptical!

Bproud Wed 03-Jul-13 09:30:47

I admire you for trying to tackle the problem, and will be very interested to see how you get on, so please keep posting. It has certainly given me food for thought as well.

Clayhanger Wed 03-Jul-13 13:56:50

Sounds like you're making progress - good luck. I may nick this idea slightly.. smile

LemonBreeland Wed 03-Jul-13 14:02:07

It sounds like a good idea. DH and i are not in as bad a situation currently, although when DD was younger we went through a phase of a lot of arguements.

I think I will look at adapting this slightly to help us.

Scarletohello Wed 03-Jul-13 14:34:27

Well done Theme, let me know how you get on...

ThemeNights Wed 03-Jul-13 20:58:54

Day 3

I think I will give today's effort 5 out of 10.

It started well, DD slept in so we had time to have a nice pre-breakfast chat with a cup of tea in bed.

I asked DH what the priority was for the evening and he said housework. Great.

I got home earlier than usual from work and we had G&T's on the patio. All very nice. Then I went to bounce on the trampoline with DD while he walked the dog.

Then it all went a bit wrong. He was doing some work in the garden and I watched the tennis with DD for a bit. I popped my head out the back door to tell him the score and then went back inside. He followed a bit later and said "you know what pisses me off, you didn't bring the washing in when you came outside."

I fully admit that I have a brain that will look at washing on the line and not always think "hmm, it's getting late, I should bring the washing in." Especially if I didn't put it out. But the way DH expresses himself really riles me.

This is normally when we bicker and row, but I didn't rise to it. I said sorry, if you had asked me I would have done it. But apparently I should notice these things by myself.

DH usually then finds other things I have/haven't done. Again I bit my tongue rather than looking round for similar evidence of his short comings, so a row was averted.

We put DD to bed, had dinner, tidied up and DH muttered "I'm not in the mood for this" but he went and got the vacuum cleaner and we had a productive 45 minutes cleaning with the IPod on full blast and both feel better for it. Off to join him on the sofa for the Apprentice.

Sorry - that was long!

ShoutyCrackers Wed 03-Jul-13 21:18:48

I don't really understand why he can't just say ' would you mind bringing the washing in please? ' or just grabbing it himself. Three minute job isn't it?

So, this experiment is all very well but will it address the issue of HOW he speaks to you? I'd concentrate more on that I think

ThemeNights Wed 03-Jul-13 21:37:28

Shouty I know, I have lost count of the time I have pulled him up on his tone / expression. It's just so unacceptable to me but I find myself copying him, and then it all goes down into a vicious circle.

I don't know how to say how it affects me in a way that gets through. So instead I sulk and get all uncooperative.

But, it is only day 3, and this has all been going on for a while so it's not going to be a quick fix.

ThemeNights Thu 04-Jul-13 17:55:07

Day 4

Fun! Off out to a party as soon as DD is dropped off at a relatives for a baby-sitting / sleepover.

Last night in bed before dropping off to sleep DH asked 'so is this working for you?' I said yes in terms of working together but I wished we could communicate better. No reply, so I took that as him thinking about it.

ThemeNights Fri 05-Jul-13 09:26:00

So, last night was lots of fun, we usually do get on really well when out.

When we got home DH remarked that because we were getting things done in the evening, he had more free time in the day, which was nice. I generally think so too, he usually rushes round like a mad thing during the day, so for him to take time out and (e.g.) go for a coffee, is unusual.

But, it did piss me off a bit because when I got home from work last night, I rushed round like crazy getting DD packed up for her night away, and then walked the dog. But, I kept quiet.

This morning I'm thinking that in fact he organised the baby-sitting and drove her there, and picked her up this morning to take her to school, the packing was in fairness my job.

So now I'm thinking that maybe I'm the problem, and I need to stop leaving so much for DH to do. sad

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