Pretty early in my previous relationship, I realized my boyfriend and I could not communicate. He, like me, was a poet and while I laid my words out- calculated like a math problem often saying things too harshly- he preferred to paint his statements using colorful language and flowery metaphors that often resulted in me needing to be a mind reader. So we’d argue. Then apologize and repeat trying to get the other one to understand what we were saying.
Me: Can you bring me an orange juice or apple juice?
Him: Only a 16 oz.
(He calls and tells me they only have Arizona brand)
Him: I found it 3.99.
Me: Arizona is fine.
Him: So big is 3.99, half gallon or small.
Him: They don’t have Arizona.
He comes back with an Arizona green tea.
When I realized it was over for us (not based off of the orange juice obviously), I avoided the conversation for weeks. Mentally, I was tormented by the decisions that needed to be made and how to have the conversation without it becoming an argument. We lived together and I needed to maintain peace until we could move out.
Then I had an idea. Silence. (The idea actually came from a post my friend shared about some Monks who were in town.) I did my research and figured I’d give it a try. That night, when he got home, I pulled out my note pad and wrote “I’m taking a Vow of Silence.” No lie! It was actually pretty fun. We laughed all night as I tried to script out responses to the ridiculous questions he asked. We sat in silence simply enjoying the air between us. It was so fun, I actually second guessed ending our relationship. I stayed true to the vow thru the night and into work the next day. In that time, I discovered something. I had missed what it felt like to not be responsible to anybody’s’ emotional well-being. In my silence, I was able to meditate, think clearer and louder, trust myself deeper. My decision became clear. When I saw him the next evening, I scribbled “We need to talk.”
Instead of paper and pen, I used the laptop. It was awkward at first. He would forget he could talk and start to type his responses. But we eventually got the hang of it and surprisingly enough, our communication was almost flawless. There was no “That’s not what I said,” or “What I meant was?” We simply said what needed to be said without tones or over talking and ended our relationship respectfully. (It all went to poop a few weeks later but that’s a conversation for another day.)
Our situation was unconventional but it worked. I’ve always been an advocate for doing what works for you. Some people communicate best face to face where they can judge the person’s body language where others do better with well thought out prose. Either way, good communication is key to any relationship. That communication includes knowing what works for you. Previous relationships, we communicated just fine. That doesn’t mean either of us is the bad one, it just meant out chemicals mix don’t’ create a great reaction. And it takes too wise— and silent—people to know that.