Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How Easy To Misunderstand

One of the diocesan bulletins has an article by a priest responsible for the pastoral work with families in the diocese. He lists five ways in which  couples fail to understand each other. Give and take  between husband and wife is distorted by serious misunderstandings.

"Francis has a cold and fever and is in bed. He asks his  wife to come home early from work to be with him. The wife answers that she has some important work to do and will not be able to leave work early.  Francis believes that Clara doesn't love him, for she  thinks nothing of his request. Francis thinks this will always be the case. Clara's deficiencies all come to his  attention. He has lived  with her for 20 years, and she doesn't understand his feelings. He will not be able to trust her, and is overcome with anger." 

He calls the first way of misunderstanding the catastrophic response: a great obstacle to communication. This happens when a simple word or action brings an extreme response. A spouse comes to an unjustified conclusion-feels attacked, hurt and angry.

A second misunderstanding is the black and white or all or nothing response. If it is not now it will never be. The words always and absolutely are often used. We have an inability to nuance what was said or see extenuating circumstances: not able to see the gray.

Tunnel vision is  seeing only one side of the issue, and usually the negative. One is prevented from seeing the larger picture, and the other's good points.

 Often one comes to a conclusion not warranted by the facts. One jumps to a conclusion with flimsy facts.

The fifth misunderstanding is to think the other  person is a mind reader and not bother to spend time discussing the issue. Not understanding we are  a failure at mind reading, we  give all the blame to the other. "Living with the person for 20 years is it necessary to  bring it up. I know what the answer will be." This kind of thinking is only going to make the problems more serious.

These misunderstandings are made with husband and wife in mind but often the same problems occur in our failure to  understand the other. We think it is the other person's fault  and fail to make the connections that would allow us to see our own responsibility for the lack of communication.