Monday, October 24, 2011

Communication: The Foundation is Trust

Tonight the book discussed the important role that trust plays in how we communicate with one another.

Seems like a fair enough assumption. Here's how the trust factor stacks up in my life, anyway:

There are some people in this world that I feel comfortable enough to share anything about myself with, because I trust them. I trust them with my feelings and I trust them with my information.
There are certain people in whom I am laying foundations for such a trust--they are tested with a little information at a time, and the rate at which I share with them matches directly with the level of my trust.
There are some people who have burned me, but I also do not feel like I have lost faith in them completely. However, we communicate about much more trivial things and at a highly guarded level.
Then, there are the people that I avoid talking to altogether. In fact, if I see them, I might turn away and leave the room. (How is that for a loving Christian example!--Hopefully, we will touch on this part later in the week.)

There was so much I could've talked about tonight. But as I let the reading simmer for a little while I decided that I wanted to talk about the one person in this world that I trust more than anyone else: my husband.

(I recently heard that someone had made mention at one point or another that they did not think my husband was all that trustworthy. To them I say, what lie have you told that you are afraid my husband will uncover?) Anyway, moving on...

I don't think there is any other person on earth I admire more or wish I could be more like. True, he is a bit rough around the edges. He may come off as a jerk to some people, and multiple times I have heard people tell me he is a little bit scary. I guess I don't see it. (Maybe love is blind?) Mostly, I feel like people just don't know what to do with a person that is that up-front about who he is.

Here are the characteristics I wish I could steal from him:
-What you see is what you get. He is never "putting on a show" for anyone. When we first started dating, I told him I thought he was a bit of a poser. We laugh about that now. I guess I had just never met someone that honest before. I thought his southern chivalry and "good old boy" demeanor were just an act. They are not--he is like that to everyone, all the time.

-He is not hiding anything about what he thinks. True, he may come across as rash sometimes, and maybe the book will disagree with me here, but I think bluntness is preferable to flattery any day of the week.
I love to tell this story: We had Samantha when we were in college and we were so broke it wasn't funny. To help earn a little extra diaper money, we volunteered to be lab rats for a research team at the university that was investigating communication patterns and relational changes in first-time parents. We were obligated every couple of months for about an hour to go in a room and basically have a counseling session where we answered a bunch of questions about our routine, our relationship, etc. Nathan HATED it.
God bless her little heart, the girl who interviewed us always read from a script and just asked the worst questions. Me being me, I would try to answer the questions as best I could so as not to hurt her feelings or call attention to how dumb they really were. And then it would be Nathan's turn...
I will never forget the question: "Um, how do you plan to establish a consistent routine for the baby?"
I will never forget his answer: "By doing the same thing over and over again."
...Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

-He is not hiding anything about how he feels. I am sure that anyone who has ever talked to Nathan will agree with me when I say, you can pretty much tell how Nathan feels about you just by looking at the expression on his face. When he laughs, his whole face lights up. When he's angry, you really might be able to see steam coming out of his nostrils.
Sometimes, though, even I can misread the face, and I just have to ask. "What are you thinking about?"
"Are you mad at me?"
And here's the funny thing, (and I know Nathan is laughing if he's reading this,) it has taken me about five years of us being together to believe these responses.
You see, as a woman, if I say I am thinking about "nothing" that really means "I have been thinking about a million things in the last thirty minutes and it is your job to act interested enough to pry them all out of me." Similarly, if I give a one-word answer to the 'are you mad at me' question (regardless of whether it's yes or no) it means YES I AM! and as soon as you ask the 'are you sure you're not mad at me' question I will most certainly spend the next several hours telling you why you made me mad.
It is not that way with a guy. I now truly understand, if he says he was thinking about nothing, he really has been sitting there with a blank mind for the past thirty minutes. And if he says 'no' he's not mad, then he really isn't. (Although he is likely to become mad if I ask the 'are you sure you're not mad' question.)

-If he says something, he means it. There is no arguing or debate with this man. He is the living, breathing example I wish I could be when it comes to "letting your 'Yes' be yes and your 'No' be no." And while that can be frustrating for me when I don't get my way, it is also very refreshing to know that if he said it, then that's what's going to happen. And equally refreshing, if he tells me he will do something, he almost always does it right then. Of course, that is not the case with me. I tell my husband I will call to make an appointment for this, that, and the other, and while it all gets done eventually, it usually takes me about 3 weeks to do it...sometimes three months. (I am working on that, Babydoll!)

-If he makes a promise, he keeps it. I love him so much for that. Especially now, I think about me talking to him right before he left, making him promise me to come home safely. And him telling me, "You know I will. I am too stubborn to die."
I know as well as anyone that he really can't promise me anything like that, but knowing that it's him that said it (and because he has a spotless track record with me so far!) I completely trusted him in that moment.
We are one of the lucky ones on this deployment. I have gotten to talk to him almost every day since he's been there. I know that's not the case with everyone else, especially our friends in the engineering company we are so close to. And while it is a blessing to be able to talk to him so frequently, it is my trust in him that he knows what he's doing and that he's well-prepared for his job that keeps me from flipping out when we have no communication for two or three days. I trust him that the information he tells me is the only information I need to hear. And I trust him that he is doing everything in his power to bring himself and all the rest of his buddies home safely.

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