Communication

ooh. war. what is it good for?

by lizzie & isaiah on January 5, 2011 · 21 comments

beavis and butthead fighting via hate trackers on love your way design and wedding blog

image via hate trackers

There’s been a divorce in my family. It was fugly.

It has Isaiah and I talking a lot about what we do that works and what could, potentially, be an obstacle down the road for us. We are planning on doing pre-marital counseling soon, but we have always had completely open lines of communication.

I believe fighting is absolutely necessary. The couple who doesn’t fight (in my humble opinion) is a couple who has many things they’re not discussing and airing out.

We fight.

I believe we fight well. There are some ground rules we established after our first fight. We only had to hurt each other once to decide we never wanted to make each other feel that way again.

We break them from time to time. We are two hot-headed Chicagoans with particularly awesome sounding fuck you’s – no-no-no..fuck YOU’s. For the most part, we stick to the rules and fight within them.

Absolutely No Characterization

My mom recently read a book with an excerpt written by a marriage counselor that said the two most common things that were evident in couples that were divorced within five years were: Blaming and characterization. That was a longer sentence than it needed to be, but you see….I forgot the name of the book.

Characterization is saying, “You are _________” instead of “You do __________.”

We stopped doing this by eliminating “always” and “never” from our fights. Saying “You always forget” leaves the other person with an immediate defense of, “No I don’t always forget…Is that what you think of me?”

We keep our fights to things we have done that the other didn’t like…things we want to work on together. It helps.

No Fight is A “Or We’re Breaking Up” Fight

We establish immediately that no fight is about “the state of us.”

Keep the Partnership, Even in a Fight

We try to make sure we’re still on each other’s side…the side of working through something together…and not standing across a ring from one another, boxing gloves laced and what not.

Race to the Apology

We’re both eager to say we’re sorry when we know we f*cked up (I’ve reached my quota for the post, I believe). Neither of us ever has to beg the other to apologize for what they’ve done.

Physical Contact

Not the hitting kind. We try to hold hands or stay physically close to each other while we fight so the ice is broken immediately. Simple and obvious and stupid, I’m sure, but it works for us.

Letting Go

I am especially guilty of breaking this rule. My mind automatically saves hurt in filing cabinets, neatly categorized. Each time something links together with a past experience, I feel like it’s happened more often than it has. I exaggerate the pain I’m feeling so he really gets the gravity of the situation. He calls my bluff and realizes that I’m stacking experiences to make it seem more weighty.

This is a recent lesson I learned. Once you exaggerate a situation beyond the norm and make a bigger deal than it is…you’ve kind of lost rights to the original issue. While you’re apologizing for exaggerating, it feels like you should still be able to say, “But I’m still upset over this first thing.” Really, you should just let it go. Don’t “wait” for it to happen again. Stop looking for easily categorized actions from your love…Stop expecting disappointment. Err on the side of giving them more credit than they deserve…after all, this is your person.

It Doesn’t Seem Fair to Take Information Given at Close Range for the Gag and the Bound and the Ammunition Round

I love Fiona Apple, by the way. Her song, “Not About Love” is one of my favorites. This lyric, especially.

You know your spouse/fiance/boy/girl/love better than anyone, right? I know that I could walk up to Isaiah and say one sentence that would have him in tears. He could do the same.

If you want to ruin your relationship really quickly and create an environment of hostility instead of one of intimacy…go ahead and use that confidential information. If you want to live happily ever after, never use information you learned from vulnerability and openness against each other. That father issue you have, the abandonment issues you share and his fear of insert-something-masculine-and-manly here are yours to expose. They’re also yours to keep and cherish and protect to save each other just-shy-of-unbearable-pain.

In summary.

We are no experts on fighting. All of these things just come from a genuine care for your love’s feelings and heart and not wanting to be the one who breaks it. We don’t look to lash out. We don’t look to get even. We only fight to air out differences and move onward and upward, together. It’s always together.

What advice do you have for fighting? Any qualms with what we’ve shared?

{ 21 comments }

on being hard of hearing

by lizzie & isaiah on December 11, 2010 · 15 comments

I feel stupid when I say "What?" a thousand times because I can't hear - on being deaf hard of hearing

image via we heart it

I sat in a soundproof booth while the woman behind the glass spoke words into a microphone. The headphones were far too big for my head. She got progressively quieter while I repeated what I heard, “Airplane…taco…puppy…” I was six. I didn’t want to fail this test. I closed my eyes and paid close attention…her back was turned and I couldn’t see her lips.

My mom has worn hearing aids since I can remember. She’s approximately 70% deaf without them. Hearing isn’t a percentage though…the only definite numbers are 0% and 100%.

My mom and I held the graph after my test and stared at a bowl shaped line that I couldn’t understand. I hadn’t done well.

The bowl represents tones you hear well and tones you don’t. One side is low-pitched tones and the other is high pitched. The very top line is flat sounds, which I hear perfectly. A tapping pencil shakes my spine. The tones where people speak are where my hearing is lost.

I have 60% hearing loss in the range where conversation exists. I read lips like a champ. People often feel self-conscious around me when I stare at their mouths. “Is there something in my teeth?” is something that’s said in more than half of the conversations I have every day.

Recently, I was walking ahead of a group of friends and didn’t realize they were yelling my name for a while. I spun around and smiled once I heard them and said, “yep?” “Are you deaf or fucking stupid, JEEZ?!”

I usually just say, “Yeah, I don’t hear so well sometimes.” What I want to say has a lot more expletives involved.

Spanish classes have been hard. Oral exams and the like.

When I finally tell a friend about it, they usually go one of two directions: Tell me they don’t hear great either, “One of the costs of loving loud music, right?!” Wrong. Second option: They whisper my name repeatedly to see if I am telling the truth and tell me later that they tried a little experiment. That’s often the last time we talk.

Rarely do they say, “Oh, okay, cool, I’ll speak up.”

So what? Hard of hearing. Who cares? There’s a little bit of a terrifying piece to the story. The type of hearing loss we have worsens over time. I started out with 10% at 6-years-old. My mom started out at 20% at 10-years-old on the graph. While hearing aids help…it’s not louder or quieter that matters in the least. It’s the tone. We’ll continue to lose hearing in the bottom of the bowl..eventually we’ll hear flat sounds..high-pitches and low-pitches and the sounds of people will cut in and out.

It’s something that has affected our relationship in the slightest, most obscure ways. It takes patience. It takes willingness…to get up and wander looking for someone rather than yelling conversations throughout the house. It takes understanding..to remember that he doesn’t always think of it like I do.

It takes acceptance…that someday we may have trouble communicating. My hearing has been stable for the last 10 years. I might have gotten lucky. The chance alone that we may have to learn sign language at some point, may have a child with the same condition or worse has made us masters in communication. We talk often and in depth about the future. It’s necessary with something like this lingering on the horizon…but what about other things that could worsen over time? Do you talk about those?

Whether it’s a tendency to snap when you’re frustrated, to become complacent and too comfortable, to be aggressive, flirty, whatever it is…a friend told me recently that the problems in a relationship when you’re dating become magnified when you’re married. I was reading Thirty-Something Bride’s post on the check-in yesterday and we do something similar with our bad habits and flaws. I have a tendency to be pushy, semi-demanding and expectant…it takes effort, time and understanding to keep it under control.

My mom used to say, “You’ll know you really love your job when you love the drudgery, the grunge work.” Relationships can be similar. I love him for the flaws that others sometimes have problems with and things I’ve always been self-conscious about are some of his favorite parts about me. That’s why “maybes” about divorce have always bothered me. A happy marriage that works isn’t something you “luck into.” Isaiah and I have talked about how there’s something┬áserendipitous about people finding each other…that people really can be “meant to be.” (Disclaimer: We are both complete romantics at heart).

But I believe a marriage is something you continue to craft with every day of self-awareness and openness. It’s something you continue to keep both eyes on.

If you take your eye off of the problem, whether it’s a worsening condition, a flaw, or a yada yada (see examples above), it’ll grow roots and stay…continue to spread, like kudzu until it starves your relationship of the proverbial sunlight until it’s unrecognizable.


Oh yes. And a HUGE “YAY!” for Kerry, who’s getting married today. Wish her luck and all that jazz. Of course I think she’s badass because she’s getting married in Chi as well, but it’s more than that. She’s just awesome all around.

{ 15 comments }