I have been working hard to use the “perfect” words and phrases in my everyday interactions in order to minimize conflict and optimize understanding. Our therapists say to try to increase our usage of them everyday. Here they are:
- I love it when______
- Help me understand
- What would make it easier for you?
- I just got triggered and I feel ______
- Can I have a re-do? (Meaning you screwed up and would like to try again)
- I am not comfortable with______. Perhaps we can try ______ instead. How do you feel about that?
- I have a concern about_____
- I heard you say _____ and I am wondering what you mean by that.
- I am trying to understand please tell me more.
I have to say some of them work better than others. It seems like the “I like it when…” phrase often brings about the desired results and by saying “What would make it easier for you?” I get to know exactly what would be the most beneficial thing I could for B at that moment in time.
Last night I tried the “I have a concern about…” and it bombed…BIG TIME. Not only did I feel like my words had exploded in my face and I had been cut by shrapnel; I ended up feeling like a fire work that just wanted to explode…light the fuse…I dare you. Let me explain.
The kids started school two weeks ago and it has been absolute chaos. Between each kid being at a different school, two carpools, and one kid also taking a college class in addition to normal high school work; the hectic threshold has increased 20 fold in his house. Already I have gotten two phone calls and two emails from Andre’s school, one from Gracie’s and have had to contact Paul’s school three times for various things in addition to talking to the counselor. Add to that book marking each kids classes(12 total) so we can check on homework every night finding/loading emails for teachers and two IEP teams…well let’s just say that it has been a challenge.
So last night when I got home late after being voted in as secretary of a school organization (more about that some other time) I found B watching the Olympics which then proceeded to his playing of the bagpipes. Meanwhile, I went upstairs to ensure that Andre was doing his homework and spent 30 minutes going through all his class websites with him after getting a call from school earlier in the day. I spent another 20 minutes re-organizing his notebooks for what I hope is greater understanding of where papers/homework are and where handouts should go. I did the same last night with Paul who seems to not be getting any homework… hmmm. Had to check on that too.
As I climbed into bed, after thinking long and hard about how I wanted to approach the issue, I said to B:
“I have a concern about ______ (“using “perfect” word phrase) how we are going to get the boys through school this year.(Two boys who have autism and face many challenges when in school) So far I have received several emails and phone calls from the schools and since the boys are both in high school now, where even more is expected of them; I think we need to come up with a plan on how we are going to handle this because I can’t do it all. If you have any ideas about this I would be glad to hear them. This is what I was thinking. I was thinking that perhaps I could be responsible for Andre and checking his classes and that you could do the same for Paul. If there was math homework that help was needed on you could do that (I don’t do math) and English would be my responsibility. What do you think? Or do you have something else in mind?”
“I work from 7 am to 6 pm. I can’t do it.”
CANCEL CANCEL CANCEL (To find out what this means ) Read Sitting In the Silence
“Well, honey, I work too. I drive two carpools, answer calls and emails from the school, pay bills, clean house. I work too. I’m sorry, you don’t get to just hang up all the responsibilities of this household when you walk in the door.”
And so it went.
Later I told him, “You know I worked very hard thinking about how to say what needed to be said in a way that was non-confrontational using the words/phrases our therapists taught us and I feel like you just shot me down. I am very disappointed about how this went.”
“You are entitled to your feelings. Feelings are neither right nor wrong,” which is B’s new catch phrase.
Yeah, well, buddy… my feelings are now ones of being pissed and angry at your feelings of entitlement and your lack of sensitivity that I am trying my best to have a calm discussion with you to get what we both want/need for our boys. I am also thinking that if we had divorced you would be getting half of these calls, doing half these carpools and that you would need to hire and pay for wife that you now have for free. An expensive proposition to say the least. Frankly, I would like to kick you in the ass for being such a blockhead.
And so I went downstairs and listened to THREE meditation podcasts in an effort to bring myself back down to earth and re-locate my place of serenity. Afterwards, as I reflected on the day I wondered it there really is such a thing as “perfect words.”
I guess the answer is no…but I will keep trying to use them anyway.
And now I will:
10 thoughts on ““Perfect” Words”
I think that kids (I am not sure about husbands) are very aware when parents use psychological babble, and hate it.
And when adults use it on me, I want to punch them.
Sorry, to your therapist, but that kind of language triggers something in me that makes me uncomfortable. I think it is because it is ‘therapy speak’, and I would prefer some of those terms to be used by a therapist only.
I ramble, do you know what I mean?
First of all, hats of to you for being the perfect mom. You are doing a tremendous job, it is a JOB, and you have acknowledgment – at least from all of us moms out there who know just how hard it is (not that I know hard it is to be mom of those high school kiddos, two with autism, so I just raise my hat one more time for you). Second, thank you for sharing those phrases. The Perfect Words. I see Violet’s point, too, but I think as someone who has struggled with something as basic as communicating with my spouse, who by the way is a small boy (I just never realised since I – silly me – thought I married an adult man), any tool that can teach two people to communicate without turning it into a massive fight is worth a try. It seems so simple – but it is so fucking difficult, really. Third, I think B was absolutely out of place with his response (and wow for that catch phrase. All that therapy money at work). When you bring up something that is a problem for you and you do that in a constructive way, he ought to respond to that positively, instead of in a selfish way. I know you know that (hence the post) but I thought I’d put a validation out here. That is exactly my fear, that I’d do all that hard work you are doing (after being hurt), and you get punched in the face with another bag of selfishness. Sigh. When will it change? Will it change? Hugs to you, GLP. Love the new name btw. I’ve been reading you just catching up on the comments now.
Thank you so much. I really appreciate the nice words. Communication is difficult esp. if you have lost good communication somewhere along the way and you didn’t realize you had lost it until it seems almost impossible to get it back!
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Exactly, that is the weirdest: that you didn’t realise you were missing it until it punched you in the face. Sigh.
Me again. (Can you tell I’ve been catching up with reading?) The problem isn’t that you asked nicely and he was a jerk. The problem is that he has no respect for the work that you do. Can you imagine if you got to ‘quit’ at 6pm? Hahaaaha!!! Hilarious. He’s a parent too. Parenting doesn’t have set hours. Get over it, B.
So there! I realize my comment isn’t helpful, but I think it’s true. And sadly, I don’t think you can really do anything about it.
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You know I adore you, don’t you?!!!!
I do! And you know it’s mutual, right?
I wonder what would happen if you just suddenly flipped the tables. If he walked in the door, and you were watching tv, and asked him to join you once he was done checking on the kids. If your favourite sweater had been washed. Whether he had checked the school emails and to let you know if there’s anything you need to do on the weekend.