3.02.2009

Mars and Venus


I loved playing the game Pictionary as a kid. You get a card with a word on it and then you have to draw a picture-without giving any verbal clues- and the other person tries to guess what it is. It's a fun game, but I had to learn how to play it. Which took practice. The first few times I would draw something and it seemed so obvious to me that the other person should CLEARLY understand what the word was on the card that I was drawing. A circle with dots in it, for instance, is a cookie. Not a pancake, not the moon, not a coaster. No matter how many times I would retrace that circle or put more dots in that cookie, it was not getting translated to the other person the way I imagined it would.
So I would feel frustrated. I'm not the only one. That's the best part about playing the game in groups- there are more of us out there and we are entertaining to play Pictionary with because we take it too seriously. We stand back and let them figure out it's a cookie while we huff and puff waiting for the other person's picture-interpretation-intellect to catch up because there can't possible be a better way to display the image of a cookie.
But there are the more seasoned players that know that this is part of the game. They know getting mad and waiting without further effort isn't very fun for all the players and it certainly isn't helping the guessers out at all. They are the players that realize quickly that the circle and dots idea needs to be crossed off and they quickly turn to a new approach. They begin to draw Cookie Monster. Or perhaps a cookie jar with cookies in it. Or an oven with cookies baking inside of it. They get more guesses on their team and turn over more successful cards this way. This is the way I had to learn how to play.

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I remember when I was engaged to me married, more experienced couples would tell me 'marriage is all about communication'. That used to bug me. What does that even mean?! What were they talking about? I would smile and nod, pretend I knew exactly what they were referring to while glancing lovingly at my sparkling ring.
As we journied through our years of marriage that comment about communication would echo in my mind. It would still not make sense to me what those people were referring to. Not until many years into the experience. And I think my description of playing Pictionary is the best way I can explain my understanding of how communication is important in marriage, according to my personal experiences and our personality combination.
Two people come together from different backgrounds and life experiences and understandings and packages of personality traits. We interpret things differently some of the time, as we are supposed to. We have different kinds of feelings and reactions to one another over the days and weeks and months and years. Explaining them, at times, to a person who isn't myself is a lot harder than I imagined in my head it would be. And understanding his when I am me is a lot harder to do than I imagined. So the more seasoned we get with this communication thing, the more we realize a little sooner in the conversation I am talking about a cookie and he thinks I am talking about the moon. Hearing that is an important part of the process of communication. When the team is shouting moon!!! it's a moon!!! during Pictionary means you have to listen and acknowledge their interpretation of what message you are delivering is off track. So you start again, without frustration, to pencil in Cookie Monster instead- or another variation of whatever message you are trying to send.
So from now on when someone gets married I should gift them a Pictionary game and write in the card: "marriage: it's all about communication".
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