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Struggling with Communication

Virginia

New Member
Hi. i’m Virginia. I am in a marriage where my Husband and I miscommunicate daily which has led to some deep-seated resentments and grievances for both of us. I interact with the world and express myself mostly relationally and emotionally. He interacts with the world mostly logically and expresses himself intellectually. I don’t know how to connect with him more transactionally which seems to be his preference and he has difficulty with my need to be understood emotionally. He has a tendency to watch tv distractedly when I’m talking, fidget, interrupt before I can complete a thought, or walk away from me when I am in mid-sentence. When I let him know this has hurt or frustrated me, he dismisses it by saying “I thought you were done”. I say , “No, you are apparently done listening”.… and so a circular conversation of blame and “I win /you lose” conversation begins instead of hearing each other and resolving the problem. Things of this nature happen repeatedly( every day) and it seems each one is a new criticism of him not ( the way I view it) as different ways in which I feel the same invalidation and disregard. I get angry as this pattern emerges; then it becomes about my anger , how I‘ve raised my voice, ( and if I “would just stop getting upset, we wouldn't have a problem” and I must “stop criticizing him” rather than ( as I see it) complaining about a behavior I would like to replace with a different one. I do believe, if I learn to be more transactional and use less words and create a system to communicate within and maybe a time frame, we could learn to be closer and he might accommodate me. I am writing this thread in the hope that someone who may be experiencing something similar on either side of the equation could give me their insights. I am at my wits end. I love this man. He’s kind overall. He’s gentle. He’s brilliant and professorial which I actually like very much, but I DO want to be heard and respected too because I have my own thoughts and opinions and perspectives Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I can only speak from my own perspective here. I have been married for over 36 years. Arguments/verbal conflicts are OFF LIMITS. We CAN disagree and discuss, though.

In my life: I do not know what to do with emotions,...with myself,...and certainly not with anyone else. If you talk to me with emotion,...I am not going to be receptive. When you can have a calm, logical conversation, then we can talk. Now, it has nothing to do with respect,...it is more about ability, on my part,...it's stressful,...and I cannot process it. If you push me, I will do my best to shut you down,...use evasive behavior,...my defense mechanism. If you keep pushing me further,...I will just respond with anger.

So, what you are describing is actually not that uncommon, from what I understand. I have seen YouTube videos on just this interaction, as well.

Most of the time when people are emotional, they tend to speak too quickly, often full of bias and cognitive thinking errors, and the voice modulation is such that,...as an autistic individual,...there is so much chaos that it is nearly impossible to process,...and I just want to get myself out of that situation ANY way possible.

Having said that, there are times when my wife is emotional about something,...and if that something has nothing to do with me, I am going to just sit back, shut up, and listen. There's nothing I am going to "fix" here, and I understand she is just "venting" and needs some emotional support through the situation. I will give her hugs, kisses, and words of encouragement.
 
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Thinx

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Using I statements, and positives, about what you would like or prefer in communication can help when a person feels criticised, for example, I love that you are kind and gentle so much, but just the way we speak with each other feels hard for me sometimes. I can change some of how I talk with you, but tell me more about what is hard for you in the way I can be? You asking for feedback and adapting is a good way to get the ball rolling.

However, I am not sure if one or both of you have autism in the mix, then some adaptions would be hard, depending on the person, but ways around can be found, if you can short circuit the mutual blaming by stopping doing it as much as possible. It is a choice, and we can decide not to go down that route. No one is to blame, mostly, in miscommunication, it's often just adjustment and learning more about each other's meaning that is relevant.
 

Virginia

New Member
I can only speak from my own perspective here. I have been married for over 36 years. Arguments/verbal conflicts are OFF LIMITS. We CAN disagree and discuss, though.

In my life: I do not know what to do with emotions,...with myself,...and certainly not with anyone else. If you talk to me with emotion,...I am not going to be receptive. When you can have a calm, logical conversation, then we can talk. Now, it has nothing to do with respect,...it is more about ability, on my part,...it's stressful,...and I cannot process it. If you push me, I will do my best to shut you down,...use evasive behavior,...my defense mechanism. If you keep pushing me further,...I will just respond with anger.

So, what you are describing is actually not that uncommon, from what I understand. I have seen YouTube videos on just this interaction, as well.

Most of the time when people are emotional, they tend to speak too quickly, often full of bias and cognitive thinking errors, and the voice modulation is such that,...as an autistic individual,...there is so much chaos that it is nearly impossible to process,...and I just want to get myself out of that situation ANY way possible.
Thank you. I will learn to speak calmly.
 

Virginia

New Member
Using I statements, and positives, about what you would like or prefer in communication can help when a person feels criticised, for example, I love that you are kind and gentle so much, but just the way we speak with each other feels hard for me sometimes. I can change some of how I talk with you, but tell me more about what is hard for you in the way I can be? You asking for feedback and adapting is a good way to get the ball rolling.

However, I am not sure if one or both of you have autism in the mix, then some adaptions would be hard, depending on the person, but ways around can be found, if you can short circuit the mutual blaming by stopping doing it as much as possible. It is a choice, and we can decide not to go down that route. No one is to blame, mostly, in miscommunication, it's often just adjustment and learning more about each other's meaning that is relevant.
Thank you. Thinking maybe I could learn to wait and figure out first what I would prefer, then ask for it and go from there?
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
It sounds like your husband suffers from an emotional disturbance that causes him to be very sensitive that he prefers to cope with by avoiding anything emotional. It could be caused by childhood emotional neglect or a poor way of coping with trauma. Therapy can help him process his emotions so he can start being himself instead of avoiding his problems. If he's not interested in therapy, there are self-help books that can help. I recommend "Running on Empty" by Dr. Jonice Webb to learn more about childhood emotional neglect. Reading self-help books about emotional intelligence and how to improve it should also be helpful.
 

Virginia

New Member
Thank you… hoping that’s not the case but open to your thoughts.. I actually have that “running on empty” book for myself… it’s an excellent resource!
 

Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
I need to say l am sorry. Sorry you don't feel validated in this relationship. What can you ask for to show he cares for you? Date night, a night he cooks? A day doing something you like to do? There could be a deeper issue than the bad communication is just not all of the issue. Another idea, sit him down, tell him you need to talk, and nicely state you need his full attention. Then give a hug or a backrub (grilled cheese sandwich :)) to reinforce this great response. And keep your voice mellow so that he doesn't hate it when you do request this. Of course grilled cheese is nice but a smoothie or cut up fruit, just something to end in a good way really helps.
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
Thank you… hoping that’s not the case but open to your thoughts..

When I wrote emotional disturbance I was referring to emotional problems that can range from very mild to severe. The books I read pointed to two main causes:

1. Maladaptive beliefs (often based on cognitive distortions)
2. Being triggered by previous negative life experiences

Examples of #1:
"Normal people don't make mistakes. If I make a mistake, it means there is something wrong with me."
"If I don't do everything right, I'm a failure."

Treatment involves identifying and changing beliefs that cause abnormal emotions which can be done using CBT, CPT, or reading self-help books.

Example of #2:
If he was frequently criticized by his parents and felt worse as a result of it, criticism can trigger the emotions he felt when his parents criticized him.

Treatment involves exposure therapy. In the case of criticism, it would mean seeking out criticism instead of avoiding it while thinking positively so that the emotions he experiences gradually become less intense and eventually become extinct (meaning the abnormal emotional reaction no longer occurs).


I actually have that “running on empty” book for myself… it’s an excellent resource!

That's great. I think your husband would benefit from reading it along with books about emotional intelligence (which can benefit everyone including people without emotional problems).
 

Storm Hess

Permanent Spaceman
For me, I have a difficult time processing emotions of others...I get overwhlemed very quickly and have a hard time responding. My mind races around at a million miles an hour and trying to then process someone else's emotional content is extremely difficult. I am logic driven and have no idea how to connect on a emotional level. I do feel emotions and can be overwhelmed by them, but can't seem to connect to anyone on that level.
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@Virginia

It looks like you and your husband have (at least) two distinct communication problems:
1) The usual issues with NT <-> ND communication
2) As a couple you seem to have fallen into some intrinsically negative communication patterns

(1) is problematic because NT's don't listen when they're told about Aspie communication patterns. You might be an exception of course, but so far you fit the norm. By the way: the same is true for Aspies learning to communicate with NT's - the problem is symmetrical.

(2) isn't something you can expect Aspies in general to help with. It's tightly intertwined with (1) of course, but I strongly suggest you handle this as a distinct issue for now.

FWIW: your first post is a good example of how not to communicate with NDs.

There is no "magic wand" to address your issues, especially here.
As a pre-req to getting useful advice, I suggest you take that statement to heart, and work on your questions.
 
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