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Communication Blunders Begin Early
by Andrea Harris
Andrea HarrisAfter seven years of being together, you'd think my husband and I would be on the same page when it comes to communication. Not quite. I'd say sometimes we're not even in the same book.

The miscommunications may partly be due to gender factors. I've noticed the differences between male and female communication starts early in life. I'm already observing it from my son, who is only 2 years old. I tell him something, but somehow the message gets filtered and then translated into something entirely different from what I said.

Here are some examples of things I say, but what I think he must be hearing:

Me: "Do you want to go potty?"
I think he hears: "Do you want to sit on the toilet where a one-eyed green monster lives and might gobble you up and swish you down the drain?"

Me: "It's time to go to bed."
He hears: "It's time to go in a dark room with only you and a funny-looking clown sitting in the corner."

Me: "Let's put on our clothes."
He hears: "Let's put on a straight-jacket that will keep you from running free and having fun all day."

Me: "Don't climb on the couch."
He hears: "Climb on the coffee table, chairs and TV if you want too."

Me: "Mommy needs to buckle you in the car seat."
He hears: "Mommy is going to strap you into an electric chair and there is no getting out. Ever."

Me: "We need to go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things."
He hears: "Bright yellow smiley-face stickers that I can put on mommy's back when she's not looking."

Me: "Be gentle with the baby."
He hears: "Just don't smash your slinky on the baby's head. But you can throw rattles at her and hard board books if you want."

Me: "See how I can 'softly' tickle her and she smiles."
He hears: "Push her belly in and see if her face lights up or music comes out her ears."

I think the observations I'm making in my and my son's communication styles are helping me to be more tolerant of my husband. So when I asked him to take out the trash before Monday Night Football and he darted me an evil eye, I realized he must of thought I said: "Get the trash, walk it to the Mojave Desert, bury it with a spoon and then come back."

Maybe just recognizing filters exist, in our communication, will help us understand each other a little better. We might not be on the same page, but maybe we can get in the same chapter.

Andrea Harris studied English at Mississippi University for Women. She was teaching in public schools, outside of Memphis, until her children were born. She now stays at home with them and writes during their naptime. Her column, Notes from a Housewife, appears in newspapers across the state of Tennessee and on various websites. Please visit her site at Notes From a Housewife for more information or email comments to momcolumn@yahoo.com.

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