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Changing Relationship with Less Technology

A gem reader recently shared her story with me and I have pasted it below with her permission.  It speaks for itself.

"Until recently, my husband and I could talk on and off all day via one chat medium or another. This meant we could instantly vent anger, ask for verbal comfort, ask where something was, check who had done what chore, complain, etc.

Many times this would result in hurt feelings or anxiety which would color the remainder of our day as we whiled away our time in our own bubbles in our own workspaces, unable to completely communicate our needs. We would come together again later that evening and sometimes talk, but most often move on to other things we needed to do around the house.

A few days ago my husband no longer had access to chat at work. There was a wall of silence between us. I couldn't see his username online and could no longer make an inquiry or get an immediate response. It was an awakening. I realized that although we had often used the chat to just visit, it had become more of a tool for me to ask him why he hadn't done something that he usually did or that he had said he'd do.

Rather than waiting for a time when we could both focus on each other and our conversation, I realized, much to my own shame, that I had been cornering him at work while his focus was elsewhere and where there was little to no chance we could come to mutual understanding. I also came to realize that many of the things I had been talking to him about were in Jackal voice. I found myself criticizing him and his actions (or lack of actions) and wanting to immediately make him aware of, or accountable for something that I saw as wrong.

That first silent day I had a moment to think. I had to think, because I couldn't contact him and just dump. I thought, "Gee, I am really annoyed that the dishwasher isn't emptied and that the counters are filthy. (Something he takes care of every morning before he leaves for work.) I'm mad that he left it ALL for me to do." Then, when I thought about IM'ing him and remembered I couldn't, my heart started talking to me. "Wow, he never leaves the kitchen a mess. He usually works so hard to keep things clean and tidy because he knows how much it bothers me. I wonder why he left it today. It must have been something pretty important."

Amazingly enough, I wasn't mad anymore. I emptied the dishwasher and cleaned the counters and didn't think much more about the kitchen. I did, however, think about instant messaging. I wondered how often I had been sad, angry or frustrated, whether with my husband, work, school or another relationship and had summarily dumped on him just because we had that immediate contact. How many times had I forgotten to respect him, respect his space, respect his feelings and expected him to quickly remedy my hurt regardless of his own situation or feelings. I had been incredibly selfish and that was/is extremely embarrassing to realize.

The last few days have been more calm in our house. And though there are still stresses from work and school, we are working together not against each other to assuage the hurts and lessen the burdens. So today, the third day of the Wall of Silence, I vow to think more and "chat" less, to check-in more and check-out less and remember that speaking through the heart takes more time, but reaps many greater rewards."

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Hearing without Defending
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Curiosity for Poor Decisions

4 Responses

  1. Jul 27, 2011

    I have been reflecting on my lack of 'greatness' in the eyes of others and found this story reflects true greatness - the small things of the heart. Thanks.

  2. Jul 27, 2011
    Tam An K. Tran

    Wow! Thank you who sent in this story and gave permission to share it with us. My father, with whom I never had a good relationship and who did not keep his last two promises to me, due to increasing forgetfulness and illness, died on July 25th and it has been very difficult for me to deal with all the emotions and hurt feelings and hurful remarks being made to me, ones to which I react and hurt others. I need grief counseling; until I find someone I can trust, will listen and advise me so i can be free of ongoing guilt over this and other relationships, I will simply need to practice my insight meditation more.

    Hopefully, one day I can submit a successful account to be freed from all guild and know I have reconciled sucessfully.

  3. Jul 28, 2011

    "Many times this would result in hurt feelings or anxiety which would color the remainder of our day as we whiled away our time in our own bubbles in our own workspaces, unable to completely communicate our needs."

    This has been my experience with misunderstandings on text and email too...without being able to hear the emotional tone of the other person, the interchange doesn't feel complete and creates anxiety. It is usually unable to adequately meet either party's need for connection around a misunderstanding.

    Which is sad because I really like the efficiency of email and text. Oh well. =P

  4. Mar 09, 2014

    This story is good but is disjointed. First it discusses being in each others
    Presence and not communicating authentically, then it says we couldn't
    Instant message and realized that we had been not communicating authentically there either?
    It sounds like a difficult relationship to be in.

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