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This last weekend my husband and I went on a marriage retreated called Epic Love. It started out Friday evening with dinner and a talk by Fr. Justin Brady who reminds me a lot of Fr. John Riccardo (you should listen to his awesome podcasts!) Saturday featured three more talks with time after each one to connect with your spouse. There were many wonderful moments, lots of laughs and plenty of serious talks with my husband.
It’d be hard to capture all that I heard and learned in one blog post so I decided to pull out the biggest takeaway for us as a couple.
The big marriage game changer for me was the idea that some people talk to think and some people think to talk. I have read many marriage books and taken many personality tests and I had never heard of this concept before. Without a doubt, and probably not surprising to most of you, I am a talk to thinker. That means I need to talk things out to discover what I really think about a topic.
My husband is a think to talker so he needs time to process information in his head, sort it all out and then is able to talk about it. You can imagine how frustrating these two types are when trying to have a serious conversation about something.
We have been married for nearly 6 years and this idea instantly clarified why we have trouble talking things out sometimes. I often ramble on jumping from idea to idea causing my husband to become frustrated. He sometimes stops me midsentence asking, “Do you really mean what you just said?”
And often times I found myself saying, “Well not really, that’s not what I meant.” This would make me feel stupid. We should mean what we say right? How could I say something I didn’t really mean? But now I realize that I have to speak some ideas out loud to figure out what I really want to say or what my main point is.
Now this isn’t an excuse to verbally vomit on your husband all the time because “it’s your process.” In understanding these two personality types, we are both responsible for reigning in our natural tendency so we can meet our partner in the middle. I need to do a better job of getting to my point sooner without rambling for 15 minutes first. I also need to give my husband some space before asking him to respond.
It helped a lot that the priest who talked about this concept was himself a talk to thinker. I’m not sure my husband would have believed this was a real thing if it had not come from a guy. I’m pretty sure he thinks all ladies talk all the time. But in hearing Fr. Justin explain how he needs to talk things out to eventually come to what he would call “the nugget,” my husband began to realize that perhaps I wasn’t trying to drive him crazy with my words but that this was my process as well.
It also won my husband over when Fr. Justin explained that us talk to thinkers need to pause FOR 13 SECONDS allowing our partner to formulate a response. Now maybe he arbitrarily picked 13 seconds as a number that would stick in our minds but I took it seriously enough to try it out. After the talk, when Michael and I began chatting, I would say my piece and then wait for 13 long seconds for him to respond. Ladies, this feels like an eternity.
And as I would watch Michael’s face, it didn’t look pained. He didn’t look uncomfortable with the silence. Meanwhile, I was holding my breath! My chest felt tight. I was aware of every second and I wanted so badly to jump in and say three more things I had thought of while we were sitting there.
Because in my mind… if I just told him these three things, I’m sure he’d have a MUCH better idea of how I felt and he could respond better with this new information!
I have come to understand just how often I talk over him. I used to take his silence after my comments as rude, insulting or maybe he just wasn’t listening to me at all. Now I realize he was feeling hurt that I never gave him long enough to respond as if I didn’t care what he had to say.
This one concept was by far the biggest takeaway from the weekend and one that will have a large impact on our marriage. I am working on minimizing my words. I also agreed to tell Michael when I know there’s something I want to say but I don’t know what it is and I need some time to just talk things out. He was happy with this concept because it meant he didn’t have to process all the words that were coming at him. He could wait until I found my “nugget” and then he could take some time to thoughtfully respond to that one thing.
I have to do my part where I also give him many many seconds when Michael can think about what he wants to say. I have to give him this space without jumping back in to add any more “and then” points! He has to work on not being frustrated that I need to ramble on sometimes and also that he doesn’t need to process and formulate a perfect response before answering me. He needs to work on shortening that thinking time.
It’s only been two days but so far our conversations have been flowing so much more smoothly!
So I don’t know how many of you have heard this concept or if it would greatly help you communicate with your spouse, your friends or your co-workers but it was definitely new to me! I couldn’t wait to get home and share it with you. There were many other gems we heard about this weekend and I will definitely share them here soon!