I love you, now leave me alone.

I have been inspired today by West End Singleton, who writes about being clear about your intentions when getting into a relationship with someone.

It got me thinking, how many of life’s stresses ad upsets could have been entirely avoided, simply by being more honest and open with our communication?

We’re all guilty of it. We tell our spouses “Nothing’s wrong” when thats far from the truth, we answer “I’m fine” even when we’re not close to it. We put a moody face on, and hope someone guesses they’ve upset us without us having to spell it out. And then we get angry or disappointed when people cant read our oh so clever signals and magically apologize or change.

But why would they? If I dont tell a friend that I need some alone time, why wouldnt they keep texting and phoning? If I dont mention to my spouse that he’s upset me, how on earth can he know how to avoid the same mistake the next time? For the most part, no one is trying to upset anyone else. But we are not each other. We think and feel differently to anyone else on the planet, and thats what makes relationships so great.

I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” Plutarch. I love this quote, and I think that we all want our relationships to to challenge us and differ from us in countless ways. Accepting that the people in our lives are not inside our heads, and might need to hear our thoughts once in a while, is not a failiure of the friendship or of you as an individual. On the contrary, its proof that you are close enough to talk honestly together, without being afraid of hurt feelings or miscommunication.

I know a couple who recently split up, after nearly 2 decades of marriage. They are currently giving it another go, despite much dissatisfaction between them. The guy has said that he has had issues with the relationship for over a decade, but hasnt wanted to ‘make a fuss.’ It’s almost laughable. He nearly lost the whole marriage because he didnt mention the niggles and problems ten or fifteen years previously. Of course the wife couldnt change her behaviour, (because why would she think to try to?) and probably felt that she coulnt mention anything negative to her {seemingly satisfied) hubby, and suddenly the carpet gets too full of ‘little things’ being brushed underneath it, and they’re having the kids on alternate weekends.

It’s shocking. It’s shocking how easily not talking becomes shouting.

There are always going to be no-go areas with the people in our lives, topics that are not discussed because they’re fruitless or where two people differ too greatly. But for the most part, with the right language, telling someone how you feel can never be a mistake, even and sometimes especially, where it’s difficult or doesnt have your ideal outcome.

Children tell us exactly what they want, when they want it. In no uncertain terms, kids hold nothing back. And at some point we are taught how to censor the words we use and the people we use them to, for social etiquette or self-preservation. But when are we taught to start hiding, especially from those that we love?


What to do when the fight isnt worth having?

Most of you know that my relationship with my mum is strained to say the least. Less of you know that lately we have for the first time attempted to do something to improve the way we communicate with each other.

As a longtime fan of counselling, I truly believe that talking things through with an impartial third party can not only help to open lines of communication, but can show you things in weeks that you wouldnt have been able to see by yourself in years. I wont pretend it was easy to convince my mother of this, she is against counselling as much as I am for it. But finally, we started seeing someone, and for the last month, things have been truly the best I can remember them being.

But what to do when a problem arises? We are firmly at the point where we are able to spend time together under normal circumstances and not argue. It doesnt sound like much, but trust me-it’s a huge breakthrough. Yet to work out however, is how to fight maturely and without the drama. You know, discuss things. Like we all have been doing with everyone in our lives since we were about 19. The way I do with everyone else in my life apart from her.

Today I encountered my first real issue of the last month. And instead of confront it and do what we’re being taught, to calmly and maturely say “This isnt working for me,” I chose a slightly different route. I walked away. And when she shouted down the road after me “Are you cross?” I didnt even turn around, just shouted back “No.” no doubt crossly.

It isnt awful. I didnt yell. I didnt get moody. It didnt end in tears. But I’m disappointed. I feel like I have a whole bunch of things left unsaid, I feel like I’m annoyed and missed the opportunity to say so. And most of all I’m frustrated that I didnt trust myself to discuss something that upset me without getting into a fight, so chose to ignore it instead.

It isnt even a big deal. If I tell you it was about a shepherds pie, you’ll see the kind of level we’re talking about here. No doubt this time next week I wont even be thinking about it. But surely relationships are made up of the kind of small things that you forget about each week. In a difficult one, they leave a residue of hurt feelings and clashing personalities and painful memories, whilst in a good one, fun reminiscing and warm feelings and compatibility.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. Like I said, we didnt fight. But on this new journey of acceptance, and discussion, and openess with one another, I suppose I’d just hoped for more.