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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
...here I am on this forum, first and foremost. Starting a thread to see who else may be in a similar boat and share tips.

In my marriage of not quite 3 years, closer to 5 total time spent cohabiting, our arguments break down because my now wife gets too flustered to put together a coherent sentence. Myself, I am very articulate and introspective as an only child who has seen way too many movies, read too many books, etc. My educational background is in business and I have been in the consulting industry for 3 years, so long story short I am very conversational and use my words well, and am very in touch with my needs and emotions and articulate them to her.

My wife is hardworking and knows well what she works at (nurse), but doesn't have a ton of breadth of knowledge and experience. She had a great upbringing with tons of resources, very little if any hardship or tough personal challenges. As a result, her dating life consisted of date a guy until they started fighting, then she would break it off. From speaking with her friends, she never fought with her boyfriends and then resumed her relationship with them, before meeting me.

The net here as I characterize it would be: she sucks at fighting. Can't use words, just gets flustered and loses temper, yells, cries, etc. I can lay out clearly what I am thinking/feeling, but she can't translate well from hearing my words to conceptualizing an idea in whatever way she constructs things internally.

Sounds familiar to any other males out there? Hopefully I'm not the only guy who wants to drop kick people going around saying men aren't in touch with their emotions.
 

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So how do you manage?
My husband just needs time to gather his thoughts and usually write down what's going through his mind. He is a LOT better now than he used to be - his habit of refusing to engage and not dealing with his feelings led to a huge amount of resentment in him and he chose to deal with it by cheating. We've worked together for years in MC and other ways to learn better ways of communicating and meeting each others needs. He also seems to do better when it's more structured, such as book work like His Needs Her Needs and The 7 Principles of Making Marriage Work.

It would be well worth it for you to discover the way that she constructs things internally.
 

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Odd that a nurse, of all people lacks communication skills. That is supposed to be one of our main abilities as nurses. As well as body language because you can't always verbally communicate.

I find it odd that you are also saying that a nurse lacks education and experience? Nursing is either a 2 year program, 4 year program or as a nurse practitioner a 7 year education (college and university).

Why are you devaluing her education and experience as a person, woman and nurse. Or rather why did you feel the need to do so here on the forum?

Do you do that to her face? While fighting? Do you exude superiority over her because you feel you are better educated and better read then her? Do you think you do it subconsciously without realizing it?

See I'm a three times around college graduate (yup I graduated three times working on number 4 too). I write for a living too (published author) and am an avid reader. IQ of 138. Husband didn't graduate past grade 9. Hates reading and is a trucker/DJ. His IQ is 189.

What I'm getting is education means nothing when there is no emotional knowledge and no emotional connection. Perhaps both of you should try an emotional based course together? Say Dr Eckert's micro expression and body language course?

I'm not chiding you either, perhaps you both need to learn each others emotional language if that makes sense.
 
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I love my wife. Some things are just not worth fighting about.

Its about working out how she communicates and try to learn that language.

For instance it might not be the actual articulation of an apology, it might be more about acting sorry ang giving a hug.
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Discussion Starter #8
Odd that a nurse, of all people lacks communication skills. That is supposed to be one of our main abilities as nurses. As well as body language because you can't always verbally communicate.

I find it odd that you are also saying that a nurse lacks education and experience? Nursing is either a 2 year program, 4 year program or as a nurse practitioner a 7 year education (college and university).

Why are you devaluing her education and experience as a person, woman and nurse. Or rather why did you feel the need to do so here on the forum?

Do you do that to her face? While fighting? Do you exude superiority over her because you feel you are better educated and better read then her? Do you think you do it subconsciously without realizing it?

See I'm a three times around college graduate (yup I graduated three times working on number 4 too). I write for a living too (published author) and am an avid reader. IQ of 138. Husband didn't graduate past grade 9. Hates reading and is a trucker/DJ. His IQ is 189.

What I'm getting is education means nothing when there is no emotional knowledge and no emotional connection. Perhaps both of you should try an emotional based course together? Say Dr Eckert's micro expression and body language course?

I'm not chiding you either, perhaps you both need to learn each others emotional language if that makes sense.
All points are fair, for sure. My perceived superiority comes out here and there but I have done a lot of intentional work for lauding what she does and how well she does it. Our narrative is that we are very complimentary to each other in this aspect. Still though, I am pretty sensitive internally to the inherent superiority in remaining calm in conflict. Kind of a catch-22 there though.

The educational example was intended to contrast the emphasis on relationship building in our respective educations - i.e. she is very sharp clinically and scientifically, and because nursing is a regulated profession, there is less emphasis on the relationship building aspect in the education itself. This is a point we both agree on when talking about our respect careers; and one of our high level points of attraction is that be both are very highly educated and motivated in our respective fields - there is no inequity in our house with respect to education.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
And the experience reference was more holistic: she hasn't really been exposed much to lower-to middle class folks (always in affluent public schools), or had to have a part time job to pay for personal expenses through high school or college.

I would characterize this more simply as, she just hadn't gotten her hands dirty much before she met me.

I've spent a lot of intentional time with her parents talking about their family life and looking for pivotal life changing events - they really were pretty vanilla by all accounts. Betting there are some internal unresolved issues inside my wife's head from her upbringing, but nobody can point me on the right direction on those.
 

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Have you ever looked at the books I suggested above, or done MC?
 

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. . . .

The net here as I characterize it would be: she sucks at fighting. Can't use words, just gets flustered and loses temper, yells, cries, etc. I can lay out clearly what I am thinking/feeling, but she can't translate well from hearing my words to conceptualizing an idea in whatever way she constructs things internally.

Sounds familiar to any other males out there? Hopefully I'm not the only guy who wants to drop kick people going around saying men aren't in touch with their emotions.
My take on the expression “so and so can’t communicate effectively” is that the individual’s communication shortcoming happens prior to the point that a fight/argument/disagreement or whatever breaks out.

Communication, by the point it reaches a “fight”, is really more of an emotional outlet than a communication dynamic in my book and to that end the only real value I perceive in a “fight” is at least getting “issues” out into the domain for later, more reasoned, and thoughtful discussion.
 

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I get like your wife, especially in an argument. Like a deer in the headlights, and I can hardly remember my name.

I can't remember where I read it but it was called "flooding" and what (sometimes!) works for me now is if I'm having an intense conversation with my SO and I'm starting to break down, unable to reply coherently, etc, I say "flooded" and I walk away for 15 min to calm down & collect my thoughts.

Its funny because at work, especially in conflict, I am very quick on my feet to reply verbally. When emotions are involved is where I have trouble.
 

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Gottman. Thats who it was. Its about adrenaline, fight or flight, etc.

Artcl: Emotional Floodin

Interestingly in there it says:

"Men are more physiologically prone than women to DPA"

In my experience women tend more to this reaction than men. I haven't done any studies though!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I've read 6 or 8 books on marriage/family/communication over the last couple years. 5 love languages was the most well-aligned to both or our constructs, and we reference that from time to time. The trouble there was that while I know I am words of affirmation and quality time, she squarely couldn't assess herself, so we are not sure what her language is unfortunately.

Yes, this definitely exists before a fight or anything episodic. We have been having some great dialogue in the last year or so in fact and it is very rewarding and heart-warming. The problem still exists when she gets upset - much of the time when she gets upset she goes what I call zero to angry in the snap of a finger, no real progression between fine and angry, whereas I don't elevate nearly as quickly, but am always caught off guard at how she suddenly loses her composure.
 

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She's not feeling heard... if you are justifying something she is complaining about... that's non productive.

It's not going to matter how great you can communicate if she is feeling unheard.. and thus undervalued.

How great do you listen and care for her needs... especially if they are reasonable is key.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I get like your wife, especially in an argument. Like a deer in the headlights, and I can hardly remember my name.

I can't remember where I read it but it was called "flooding" and what (sometimes!) works for me now is if I'm having an intense conversation with my SO and I'm starting to break down, unable to reply coherently, etc, I say "flooded" and I walk away for 15 min to calm down & collect my thoughts.

Its funny because at work, especially in conflict, I am very quick on my feet to reply verbally. When emotions are involved is where I have trouble.
You bring up a great detail that I forgot to include - she has these strong tendencies towards abandonment fear. And neither of us can figure out where they came from! I love taking a break as it helps me calm down if I am flooded, but it is a Pyrrhic victory as she gets so hurt when I do anything that can be perceived as "leaving her". Completely stumped there, but accordingly she can't bring herself to take time outs consistently and insists in staying in the ring until it is done.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
She's not feeling heard... if you are justifying something she is complaining about... that's non productive.

It's not going to matter how great you can communicate if she is feeling unheard.. and thus undervalued.

How great do you listen and care for her needs... especially if they are reasonable is key.
That's very true - we arrive at that conclusion very often. The trouble is, our fights usually consist of me asking clarifying questions, and her answer being "I don't know!".

I hate I don't know. I hear it from her all the time, and I don't know what to do with it.

"What did I do that was mean" - I don't know
"How would you like me to communicate such n so" - I don't know
"What can I be doing differently" - I don't know
"How does this make you feel" - I don't know
"What do you mean by 'just be nice'" - I don't know
 

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Thank you for clarifying your position. I understand a lot better where you are coming from.

The very interpretation of your original post is a prime example of miscommunication and the very topic we are talking about here right.

I will reiterate that we don't really put a lot of thought or time into emotional knowledge and education (as you just did in clarifying posts). I am, and I neglected to say so the first time, hear impaired and I fully believe in emotional knowledge (and this is coming from an INFP personality, very introvert) through emotional education especially within the context of body language and micro expression. Learning to read people is paramount to emotional education and knowledge.

In short: perhaps a course like Dr. Eckma's micro expression and body language courses may be a wonderful couples activity for the both of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you for clarifying your position. I understand a lot better where you are coming from.

The very interpretation of your original post is a prime example of miscommunication and the very topic we are talking about here right.

I will reiterate that we don't really put a lot of thought or time into emotional knowledge and education (as you just did in clarifying posts). I am, and I neglected to say so the first time, hear impaired and I fully believe in emotional knowledge (and this is coming from an INFP personality, very introvert) through emotional education especially within the context of body language and micro expression. Learning to read people is paramount to emotional education and knowledge.

In short: perhaps a course like Dr. Eckma's micro expression and body language courses may be a wonderful couples activity for the both of you.
Great context, and great advice. I think that would be received very well.

I hope this can be one of those giant threads, as this is all great discussion IMO. Really would welcome more thought in getting over the "I don't know" hurdle....
 

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You bring up a great detail that I forgot to include - she has these strong tendencies towards abandonment fear. And neither of us can figure out where they came from! I love taking a break as it helps me calm down if I am flooded, but it is a Pyrrhic victory as she gets so hurt when I do anything that can be perceived as "leaving her". Completely stumped there, but accordingly she can't bring herself to take time outs consistently and insists in staying in the ring until it is done.
I never understood what I was feeling either, until I attended this seminar. Now I recognize when I feel panicky - she might have some indicators earlier that you aren't seeing. I'm sure my xh would have said the same as you, that I go zero to crazy in 3 seconds but for me it ramps up slower than that.

My dad always used to walk away when he was angry (or drive, sometimes for an hour or more). I never thought of it as abandonment even then, just that he couldn't calm himself down in our presence. Just verbally expressing that I am "flooded" makes it easier for my SO to handle me walking away in a discussion, because he knows I can't think straight.
 
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