12 February 2019, by Sheila Sim

Why can’t he see it from my POV?

sheila

We just celebrated our first-year anniversary.

After 1 year of marriage, I realised that new marriages feel very much like tending to the needs of a 1-year-old child. A very loving, innocent relationship that still requires a lot of attention and nurturing.

Time spent together is fun, exciting and enjoyable, and feels constantly insufficient. There are so much we want to do – we want to spend time with our family and friends, but we still crave for the time together as a couple.

We are also still learning and finding out about each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, still adapting to the differences, still enjoying the process of exploring, and still learning to accept the perfect imperfections.

Why doesn’t he see what I see?

Since our marriage, I find myself being reminded of a very simple fact – accept that all human beings are different. Even though he’s my husband, we don’t always have to see things the same way.

I have to constantly remind myself this especially when we have arguments, when I find it so frustrating that he doesn’t see things from my POV!

Accepting the fact that everyone is different makes life a lot easier. It is easy to understand that we are all different, but sometimes it is hard to accept such a simple fact, especially during a heated argument. I shouldn’t expect him to always be on my side, that I should accept that there can be another way of handling something even though it is more complicated and unnecessary (lol).

It’s the acceptance that we are all different that teaches and forces us to communicate effectively.

Communicating with my two men

I grew up in a single parent family, with my father, a very traditional Chinese man. Though I know he loves me very much, he has never once verbalised it. When he’s sad, he never shares. He is quite chauvinistic in the sense whereby he feels just because he’s the man of the family, he can never show his weaknesses.

Learning to communicate with him took a really long time, especially when both of us are so short-tempered and opinionated!

Through many years of fights, crying and screaming at him, I have learnt the hard way when communicating with men – they don’t take hints. Not well. Not at all. Not even when you think the hint is “very obvious”.

Nope, it’s never obvious enough unless you specifically say it to their face…

“I want you to cook dinner tomorrow and I’ll be home at 8.07pm…I want to eat stir-fry beef with broccoli, winter melon soup and steam codfish. I want chilli padi on the side. And I want ¼ brown rice with ¾ quinoa, because I am tired of being the one cooking all the time!”

Haha, ok, I am being dramatic with the details. But my point is, don’t wait until you’re angry and have waited too long for him to ‘figure it out himself’. That day may never come.

But, on the other hand, you cannot talk to them too harshly or nag at them too much as well, because then it’ll backfire, and they might not be “listening” at all. Argh…

A useful communication tool

Before we got married, we went to see a pre-marriage counsellor. It was a 3-hour long session, once a week for 3 weeks. In those few hours, one of the most important and useful tool we learnt was called Active Listening.

It is particularly useful for conflict management. It is a rather long-winded process and can be time-consuming for some couples. Personally, I rather put in the time to communicate effectively now, than to sweep things under the carpet, and for it to explode in the future.

(Boesky) “Active Listening” skills play a substantial role in diffusing tension between people, and fostering intimacy instead. The purpose of these skills is to get into the other person’s shoes- to take on their perspective, and see how reasonable it is for him or her to feel the way they do. It is also a way to validate the other person’s reality, perspective, and point of view. People feel heard, understood, and cared for, and subsequently tensions fall by the wayside, and peace and harmony take their place.

 

This is an example of how normally conversations can go wrong…

The characters and events in this series are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is coincidental


Her: “Why are you always on your phone? Can’t you just stop gaming for a minute? I have already done all the housework, cooked dinner and folded the clothes. You are still here in work clothes and playing games on your phone.”

Him: “I had a really hard day at work. Can you just stop nagging! I already washed the dishes what…”

Her: “You are not the only one with work here. I am also very tired from an entire day of meetings and deadlines! And I had to rush to finish my work so I can go to the supermarket to buy food for us, just so you can have your dinner in time. Can you be more appreciative! Why are you always taking me for granted?!”

And then, it’ll probably be hell from here on. Haha! Anyway, this conversation is just something I made up.


So, this is how Active Listening works,


Her: “Why are you always on your phone? Can’t you just stop gaming for a minute? I have already done all the housework, cooked dinner and folded the clothes. You are still here in work clothes and playing games on your phone.”

Him: “Do you mean to say that you want me to stop being on the phone and give you attention?”

Her: “Yes, I want you to give me some attention. I have been tired from meetings and deadlines all day. I had to rush home to cook dinner for you because I know that you like homecooked food.

Him: “Ok, I hear you. I will make sure I’ll give you more attention. How does that make you feel if I do that?”

Her: “I feel appreciated. When you are on the phone all the time. I feel like you are taking me for granted and I feel neglected.”

Him: “I’m sorry you have felt neglected. I will pay more attention to your needs in the future. Can I also share with you about why I like to play games?”

Her: “Yes, I will like to hear about it.”

Him: “My way of relieving stress and unwinding is to play games. I just want to be in my world for a while, not wanting to talk to anyone about anything. Is that ok?”

Her: “Ok, now I understand how you feel. How long will you need to unwind? So next time I know how to handle the situation better.”


This is just an example and a summarised version of what I have learnt. For this to work, both parties need to be willing participants.

It is to encourage couples to share, objectively. I have also found a video that talks about how Active Listening works, here’s the link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=335L0QpO7zA

I am fortunate to have a husband who is on board with me on this process of Active Listening when we have disagreements. As I said, it takes two willing parties for this to work. If one party is not interested or does not find it useful, then perhaps, it is better to find another option that works for the both of you.

At the end of the day, communication to a relationship is like Oxygen to life, without it, it dies. So, let’s try our best to communicate well and effectively. Listen to understand, not to reply.

 

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