Hus­band seeks ways to change the com­mu­ni­ca­tion pat­terns an­noy­ing his wife

The Washington Post Sunday - - DIVERSIONS - AMY DICKINSON

Dear Amy: Lately, when my wife asks ques­tions, she is re­ally dis­sat­is­fied with the an­swers.

Can you sug­gest a book I could read that would help me lis­ten bet­ter to her ques­tions, and pro­vide shorter, on­point an­swers with­out ex­tra or ex­tra­ne­ous ex­po­si­tion?

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her us­ing the speech pat­terns that I have al­ways used will not work, as she doesn’t ac­cept that any­more.

Won­der­ing Hus­band Won­der­ing Hus­band: I give you props for re­al­iz­ing that if you do some­thing dif­fer­ently, you might suc­cess­fully change the dy­namic be­tween you and your wife. I like the book “Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Mir­a­cles for Cou­ples: Easy and Ef­fec­tive Tools to Cre­ate More Love and Less Con­flict,” by Jonathan Robin­son (2012, Conari Press).

Robin­son is a cou­ples ther­a­pist who of­fers a num­ber of prac­ti­cal tools you could use to try to re­set this dy­namic. He thinks that each per­son needs the “three A’s” to com­mu­ni­cate well: Ac­knowl­edg­ment, ap­pre­ci­a­tion and ac­cep­tance. This means that you could start by “ac­knowl­edg­ing” your wife’s po­si­tion, even if you think it’s wrong: “I can see that you dis­agree with me be­cause your ex­pe­ri­ence has been dif­fer­ent from mine.”

An­other very pop­u­lar book that has suc­cess­fully ig­nited lots of thought­ful con­ver­sa­tions be­tween the gen­er­a­tions in my gi­ant fam­ily is “The Five Love Lan­guages: The Se­cret to Love That Lasts,” by Gary Chap­man (2015, North­field Publi­ca­tions). This book will help you to re­frame your per­cep­tions of how you and your wife com­mu­ni­cate.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion is not only through words, but through be­hav­ior. Chang­ing some of your non­ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion (and un­der­stand­ing hers) may of­fer you a use­ful per­spec­tive and deeper un­der­stand­ing of why you are in a rough patch.

I also need to add that it is not al­ways nec­es­sary to have your point of view val­i­dated. If your wife asks a ques­tion and you an­swer it re­spect­fully and to the best of your abil­ity, then she should be free to ac­cept or re­ject your an­swer, with­out you feel­ing that you have some­how “lost” a round in the com­mu­ni­ca­tion sweep­stakes. Dear Amy: We used to live in an­other state and were friends with a cou­ple and their fam­ily. We had to move for a few rea­sons, and things got a lit­tle strained.

The daugh­ter of our friend is 25 years old. She and her lat­est boyfriend came for a visit and stayed in my home, ate with us and used my car for about a week. The girl’s grand­par­ents live in the area, but they didn’t stay with them. I never heard from them or the girl’s mother af­ter their visit.

Re­cently, this girl and the boyfriend broke up. Then she lost her job. My hus­band is work­ing out of the coun­try.

The girl con­tacted my hus­band to say she would like to get away and would like to stay with me in our house. I was a bit an­noyed that she didn’t con­tact me, but I called her and said it would be okay.

She booked her trip and never con­tacted me. She stayed with friends in the area and went club­bing for four days be­fore she con­tacted me and said her friend would drop her off the fol­low­ing day.

I told her to keep in touch. Next day — noth­ing. Fol­low­ing day — noth­ing. Two more days went by — noth­ing.

I sent her a text: “I thought you needed to get away and clear your head. I think when you are done with your friends you need to go home.”

She sent the text to her mom who for­warded it to my hus­band (who is still work­ing abroad). He called me, very up­set. I have not heard from the girl or her mom. What do you think of this?

Host­ess With the Least­est Host­ess With the Least­est: This young woman seemed to want to use your home as her in-town crash pad, and given her lack of re­spect dur­ing her time in your town I think your re­sponse was com­pletely ap­pro­pri­ate. When your hus­band is away, it is your re­spon­si­bil­ity to run the house­hold at your dis­cre­tion, and he should have backed you up.

The good news is that you are prob­a­bly per­ma­nently off this fam­ily’s list of hous­ing op­tions. Amy’s col­umn ap­pears seven days a week at wash­ing­ton­post.com/ad­vice. Write to askamy@amy­dick­in­son.com or Amy Dickinson, Tri­bune Con­tent Agency, 16650 West­grove Dr., Suite 175, Ad­di­son, Tex. 75001.  You can also fol­low her @ask­ingamy.

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