M and I have plenty of miscommunications. Yes, still, after three years of growing thisdynamic together, and almost 23 years together.
As the follower, I need M’s directions and expectations to be clear. I need to understand what he wants or expects from me, and I want to carry that out; I want nothing more than to please him. As the leader, he needs me to understand what he wants and carry that out. He needs me to follow without interjecting my own assumptions, rationalizations, and intentions into his directions and expectations.
I’m not proud to say that I do that fairly often. Instead of asking clarifying questions when I don’t understand, I assume. Instead of being patient, I assume. Without a clear understanding, I assume.
M also sometimes has a difficult time being clear, communicating himself in a way I wholly understand. It’s something he freely admits. Verbal communication is something he struggles with.
Many of our miscommunications happen because I take his initial communication at face value. I assume that no matter what, it will be carried out precisely how he vocalized it or wrote it. Except, life rarely allows for absolutes. Life doesn’t always allow for things to play out as he intended, and I may not be privy to the intentions. I only have the wording or the verbally communicated directions/instructions/expectations. And what he means and what I think he means may be two entirely different things.
I thought that knowing M’s core intention was good enough, and to an extent it is. I KNOW he values me, he’s proven that over and over again. I trust that he never intends to hurt me. He knows those same things of me. So if something does hurt me, or hurt him, we can talk it through and move on, with no residual negativity. Unless we keep doing the things that hurt the other. Unless we’ve talked it through and talked it through, and it keeps happening.
We both know there’s a learning curve, and that it takes communication and effort on both parts. Growth takes time. If a rule or expectation has been written or vocalized, it is M’s responsibility to vocalize why it can’t be followed through. He expects compliance from me; I expect follow through from him. If I don’t comply, I’ve communicated to him that his rule or expectations didn’t matter, that his wants/needs didn’t matter. If he doesn’t follow through, he communicates the same to me. I know that it may mean some adjustments of expectations from me, and it often does. It may mean asking clarifying questions and accepting answers, even when I don’t like or agree with them. It means accepting when something can’t or doesn’t happen, and appreciating his intentions and commitment to following through by communicating that it can’t or why it didn’t. He knows it means addressing the changes verbally on his part. It may mean that the rule or expectation needs to be revisited, rewritten, or even scrapped because it just isn’t working for us. We know these things, and we still sometimes struggle. We aren’t perfect, nor will we ever be.
We also know that it means never forgetting that forgiveness is the highest form of love and trust. It means knowing that it’s unrealistic to believe that the other is going to meet every perceived need we have in the way we envision it, and maybe it means they won’t at all, that the need is something we must meet ourselves, that we must master that on our own with loving support.
It means listening. Really, listening. It means hearing both words AND actions. It means not being afraid to ask, share, talk. It means not being afraid to need. It means never forgetting that neither of us intends to harm the other, that love and honor are our highest priority. When we honor above all, we know we can fine-tune and continuously delve deeper to understand one another, to appreciate one another. And that’s all we’ve ever wanted.