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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?

ThemeNights Mon 22-Jul-13 20:36:56

Sorry Cailin, haven't come back to this thread for a while. He doesn't really discuss it.

He doesn't think we have a problem communicating, I think he finds a row cathartic rather than destructive. He's been through a lot in his life without counselling and so doesn't see the need.

Well, as usual we go a few days not talking and then bit by bit, normality creeps back in so he forgets it all and I continue to brood. Maybe I am over thinking it all and this is what normal relationships are, maybe I am just over sensitive.

I might look into counselling for just myself.

CailinDana Thu 18-Jul-13 19:24:38

Why is your DH not keen?

Wuldric Thu 18-Jul-13 18:11:10

May I make a suggestion? It really helps to keep the temperature down, I've found.

You need clear division of labour. If one person cooks, the other washes up. One person does all the laundry. One person does all the shopping. One person is responsible for paying the bills, sorting out finance and keeping the spreadsheets. One person is responsible for putting the bins out. One person is responsible for keeping x, y, z room tidy. One person is responsible for cleaning windows.

I know it sounds a bit clinical but it really defuses stuff.

ThemeNights Thu 18-Jul-13 18:04:25

We have a fairly poor track record of being able to do this. Hence my suggestion of counselling, having a referee in the room. DH is not keen to say the least...

CailinDana Thu 18-Jul-13 14:16:33

Would it be possible for you both to sit down and honestly tell each other how you are feeling without the other one interrupting? It seems to me that you've focused on practical matters when the real problem is to do with how you view and feel about each other.

ThemeNights Thu 18-Jul-13 09:22:09

Cailin, he doesn't express any particular desire to work again in the near future, he gets fed up with the inevitable drudgery of SAHP-hood and I could I am sure do more to alleviate that, hence this experiment to have a bit of structure around the chores/household management.

Things not much better this morning, we were both out last night so didn't talk and I had an early start for a meeting a hour away.

CailinDana Thu 18-Jul-13 06:05:24

Could his frustration be part of the communication problem?

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 22:07:52

Re roles: I'm happy, he's happy but frustrated o think, especially as DD gets older and less intense to look after.

It would be difficult but not impossible for him to work, he also supports older, semi-dependent relations, and has a raft of voluntary work, mainly around DDs school.

CailinDana Wed 17-Jul-13 20:17:11

How happy are you both with your current roles (sahp/wohp)?

BadLad Wed 17-Jul-13 16:53:09

I'm not really one for rowing, so I think I'd just walk away with an "I'll speak to you when you've calmed down" if someone got angry with me for forgetting to cook peas with dinner.

But I honestly don't think I could live with someone who got angry about something as trivial as yet. Of course, that's easier to say when you don't have kids.

I'm afraid I suppose this is unconstructive criticism, as I am finding fault without offering any solution, but I do agree with the poster who said

Would it not help to cut to the chase & talk about why you are angry/narky with each other?

As long as that is unexamined rows are always going to erupt.

Scheduling the chores seems to me to be ignoring the elephant in the room.

You sound very commited and determined to give your relationship a go. I hope happiness awaits.

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 16:28:41

Fair enough BadLad, but what's the answer? How does one get away for a break when there's a 5 yo in the house?

BadLad Wed 17-Jul-13 16:13:27

It still seems to me that you are missing the point.

Exactly who is in the right with the divvying up of the housework is not the issue. The problem is that when you don't agree, you end up having a row and not speaking.

So you have decided to make sure that the housework gets done, so you won't row about it any more.

But the problem of speaking unpleasantly still remains, and doing the housework doesn't solve that. Next time there is a disagreement, it will probably still result in an argument.

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 16:09:25

DH is a SAHP, I am WOHP, I don't think it's unfair for him to do more domestic stuff, but I think we disagree whether I pull my weight or not. Hence the theme nights idea.

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 16:04:05

DD and DH were coming home from DD's sports club, after which they visited a friend.

It was agreed that I would cook dinner, the meat was in the oven but I hadn't put the veg or potatoes on as I didn't know exactly when they would be home, and they don't take that long.

I called him at lunch time, ended up in a shouting match, obviously it's not just about dinner, that was just a trigger last night sad

GoshlyoHeavens Wed 17-Jul-13 16:00:55

I am writing a self helpbook called Do Not Read Self Help Books. I look forward to your subscriptions.

BadLad Wed 17-Jul-13 15:48:40

I think your problem is that you have tried to find the time to do mundane chores around the house, but the real problem is that when you and he disagree over who should have done it, the communication about it is as bad and unpleasant as it ever has been.

The idea you borrowed from a friend of a friend seems to be designed to help people for whom there aren't enough hours in the day, not couples who are forever narky to one another.

As far as I can see, there are three types of communication problems couples can have. Constantly misunderstanding each other, in which case the solution might be to speak more plainly and steer clear of passive aggressive. Another is never having any time together to sit and talk to each other, for which some no-screen, with the TV, tablets etc off, might be of help.

Then you have your type, which is just not communicating pleasantly to each other. And the only way round that is to find out why it is so, and do something about it. It might be that you are constantly tired and irritable. After all, nobody is at their sunniest when they are tired.

Or it might be that you just bring out the worst in each other, in which case some time apart might do you some good. Whether that is a short period so you miss the other person, and realise what you are giving uo, potentially, or whether that is permanently, as you both feel a breath of fresh air, is something you will only find out if you try out.

mynewpassion Wed 17-Jul-13 15:28:04

Whose was supposed to make the evening meal last night? Were dh and dd coming home from work/ childminder?

Were you waiting for him to get home before cooking?

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 08:42:14

Wimped out of actually speaking to him this morning. He was properly angry after coming back from dog walking to find DD hadn't started breakfast. I stopped him going on in front of DD, made her breakfast and packed lunch for school and then left.

I've sent him this text (and we don't normally do a lot of texting)

"I feel so sad that I can't just talk to you. I'm sorry you are angry. I don't think I did anything last night to deserve how you spoke to me. I love you but I don't want to live like this. I want to find a counselling service to help us get past this x"

Ruralninja Wed 17-Jul-13 07:43:54

Just a small point really - just wondering if it's really necessary to try to exactly the same amount of domestic work as each other day to day - it's balance over weeks/months you are aiming for, not "I've put the bins out, so you need to walk the dog". When you bean count in this way, it's quite damaging I think and breeds resentment. Can you agree an amnesty on commenting on how much or little the other one has done and agree to try to contribute equally over the course of a month instead? Good luck with it all, I admire the commitment.

BadLad Wed 17-Jul-13 07:26:30

This doesn't really seem to be about communication. This seems to be about finding time to do the mundane stuff that, otherwise, wouldn't get done.

It might work in a "once that's out of the way, we can have more time to communicate" way, but it seems very indirect. Unless that's what you are striving for. It doesn't seem, to me, anyway, to do anything to solve the unpleasant way in which he sometimes talks to you.

Good luck with it, but obviously I am missing something.

peteypiranha Wed 17-Jul-13 07:20:55

Why do you hold grudgss for ages? I have small arguements with dh and we have completely forgotten about it two hours later. Dont you think its a bit silly still being in a mood over cleaning a cupboard and him being snappy because he felt hungry, and then dragging it out for ages? confused

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 07:20:28

Twinklestein, my assumption is that I don't meet his expectations, I am just waiting for him to criticise the next thing that I do wrong.

He might say the same sad

ThemeNights Wed 17-Jul-13 07:18:31

Jux, what I want to say is:

"If you can find a single person to agree that your behaviour was reasonable last night I will apologise profusely."

But somehow that doesn't seem to be in the spirit of Non Violent Communication.

Still no talking this morning, he's brought me a cup of tea (it's his turn), I've said thanks, he's gone out with the dog.

Jux Tue 16-Jul-13 23:18:06

So break it.

Don't stew for weeks, take the bull by the horns and talk about it tomorrow. Then he can't forget about it, either.

ThemeNights Tue 16-Jul-13 22:01:15

We are so bad at talking to each other when we've had a row, it just escalates.

He's narky because he's hungry.

I'm narky because he talks to me like shit when he's narky. I feel like I can't do anything right. There's no 'give', no kindness, no accepting that people make mistakes when he's in this mood (I forgot to cook the peas with his dinner hmm).

He will come to bed, sleep and forget about it all by the morning. I will stew for weeks but say nothing. I wanted to break this pattern sad

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