Sometimes there are things in our culture that are said again and again and again. Phrases that really get in the way of our communication. And one of those is “common sense.” Let’s just set the record straight there is no common sense. There’s no common anything. Really the biggest challenge in communication is all about believing thoughts. And that our thoughts are common to people around us. That what makes sense to me should make sense to you. And to feel validated in my thoughts, I need you to be thinking the same thoughts.
These exact phrases could be uttered in my home. Now I want you to notice the difference and see if there’s any common sense about them. “It’s just common sense that you should rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Everybody knows that.” Or “It’s just common sense that you would put your dishes in the dishwasher and let the dishwasher do the heavy lifting and hard work.”
Or “It’s just common sense that you would let people know if you’re going to be late. Everyone does it. Everyone should do it.” Or “It’s just common sense that people know when you give them a time, you may be five or ten minutes late and that’s okay. You don’t need to let everyone know. It’s just common sense.”
The problem with thinking if my thoughts are what everyone else is thinking, is that if that were the case, our partners would be doing some pretty intentionally hurtful things a lot of the time. In my marriage, at least once or twice a day, my husband would be a horrible monster. But if he’s having different thoughts, then it’s a different situation. He’s got different motivations and different fears and anxieties and insecurities that he’s coming from.
Let me give you a scenario. You’re running out the door to go to the gym and this is your alone time. Your son has an appointment in 30 minutes and your husband has to take your son to this appointment. It is really important. And so you go to your husband who’s in the office, in front of his computer. “Hey, please don’t forget this appointment is in 30 minutes” and then your husband mumbles something and you drive to the gym and get started working out.
50 minutes later your husband texts you and says, “When’s our son’s appointment?” And you are so beyond frustrated. You feel alone as a parent because why do you have to think about all the appointments all the time? You feel embarrassed because now you’re going to have to clean up all this garbage that your husband left and talk to the professional whose appointment you missed. And you also feel disrespected by your husband because he couldn’t take a hot minute to peel his eyes away from the computer and listen to you.
If your husband had the same thoughts, if there was some “common sense” going on here, it would be something like this. “Please do not be married to this abusive man because he clearly does not respect you. He clearly doesn’t want to be your co-parent. So please do not remain married.”
But if he’s having different thoughts, his own thoughts, the situation would be different. So why don’t we examine them in a scenario from his thinking. I happen to know what your husband was going through. You were rushing out of the door thinking about going to the gym. You showed the appointment reminder to your husband in his office.
At that time though, he’d just received a really scary email from his boss, threatening his work situation. He panicked. He got stressed. He was writing an email in response. He was thinking about how important his income was for the family. He was thinking about how important him providing and enabling you to go to the gym and for your son to actually go to appointments was. And he was really absorbed in that.
50 minutes went by and your son wandered into the office. He remembered he texts you and you fired him back a really nasty text because you were dealing with this seemingly abusive person you were thinking of and he felt horrible. He felt like a failure. He felt criticized. He didn’t know how to repair it and so he didn’t text you back.
I’m sure that gave you a whole bunch of other thoughts, so if you take away anything from this video, please take away that the thoughts you think your partner is having or the motivations you think your partner is having or the common sense that you think everybody should have, isn’t real. It’s all unique to you.
You can look at your partner today and see that your beloved husband may be living on his own Island, have his own language, his own culture, his own insecurities, his own feelings, all of that stuff. He’s got his own stuff going on.
If you ever feel hurt, if you ever feel disrespected or not heard or not important, or you feel like he thinks you’re stupid or any of that stuff, please go and check with him. He is the best source of information that you can use.
Your thoughts are different than each other. Your motivations are different. That is the crux of good communication and anytime you’re tripped up, anytime you’re in an argument, this will be at the heart of it.
I hope that was helpful. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
I’ll talk to you guys next time.