Friday, August 22, 2003

Thoughts on Communication  

Yes, this is a trite subject. Everyone from Dr. Ruth to Oprah has told us that "communication is key." More often than not, that sounds like a rationalization for the female urge to prattle on endlessly about feelings and a condemnation for the lack of such an urge in men. But I do believe it is absolutely vital in any intimate relationship. You have to tell your wife when something bothers you. Just as importantly, you have to tell her when something pleases you. This goes for personal interaction, life in general, world views, everything.

Personal communication is very difficult for me. I communicate fine with groups, but with individual people I have to make a conscious effort. Let me illustrate with a true story (I have to give you some background in order for this to make sense, so bear with me). My nose is chronically congested. Even when my allergies are not flaring, I usually breathe through only one nostril at any given time. When I lie down on my side, all of my congestion drains into the nostril nearer to the floor and I breathe through the nostril nearer the ceiling. That's the background--here's the story. When I lie in bed facing my wife, sometimes she kisses me on the lips. When she does this, she tends to rest her nose on top of mine, thereby closing my only open nostril so that I can't breathe. She did this for a period of months, and I recoiled every time she did, because I like to breathe even during kissing. I used to get so frustrated with her. Finally, one night I thought (quite forcefully), "Why does she keep doing that? It's so uncomfortable!" At that moment, I realized I had never told her about my single-nostril breathing and how her kisses nearly suffocated me. So I told her, and now when she kisses me she's careful not to cut off my air supply.

My point is that one simple bit of communication would have saved me months of frustration and potential anger had it occurred to me to actually tell her about my problem. I could go on, but it boils down to this: Tell your wife how you feel and she won't have to read your mind.