Stan is an incurable romantic. Ever since he started courting Marge seriously, he has been sending or bringing her flowers. During the couple of weeks leading up to their wedding, he sent her a different arrangement every day. He continued this practice every Friday for a long time thereafter.
Marge had never been very much inclined towards sentimentalism and thought of herself as a strictly practical type. But it took several years for her to find the courage to speak up.
"You know, Stan, I really love you and I think it's terrific that you want to bring me flowers and you never miss a week, come hell or high water. "But you know, I'm not really mad about flowers that much. Besides, they die so soon afterward that I feel guilty that we're wasting our money. If you insist on buying me something, I'd rather you saved up for a more lasting gift..."
This is a trivial case (fortunately), but if you're unable to tell your relationship partner what's on your mind in small matters, it's unlikely that you'll feel comfortable doing so in major areas of concern.
Hurt and angry couples often tell counselors "he should have known..." or "she should have realized...." when things are already at breaking point. But they don't explain how he should known, or how she should have realized. Is he or she a clairvoyant? Did anybody actually tell him or her?
This approach is comparable to that of someone who never makes grocery lists before she goes to the supermarket, but relies on her intuition. After eight shopping expeditions, she might have six bottles of ketchup in her refrigerator. At other times, her family may have to go weeks on end without butter. In intimate relationships, such an approach to life can be disastrous. Never rely on your intuition, and even less so, the intuition of your partner. Ask your soul mate what's on his or her mind, and don't be shy to tell him or her what's on yours!
Other spouses who opt to keep their mouths shut don't get away with it so easily.
Jake's wife, Pat, was habitually late whenever, for whatever reason, they agreed to meet at some place. Jake would often arrange to meet Pat at the appointed destination a half hour earlier than the time he really intended, but all the tricks in the book didn't help.
Jake normally worked to a tight schedule, and Pat's consistent disregard for punctuality and apparent lack of consideration needled him no end. For all that, out of concern for Pat's feelings, he never said a word about it. However angry he felt, he would bite his lip and remain silent.
Until one day when they were due to arrive separately at an family gathering where Pat's presence was important. She eventually showed her face over an hour late. The bubble containing Jake's years of simmering frustration finally burst. He screamed and yelled, embarrassing not only Pat but all their relatives.
To his credit, Jake had recognized his potentially destructive ego (see our article How to Tame the Destructive Ego on this site) right from the first time Pat had arrived late. He had resolved not to let it have its own way. Just unfortunately, he went about the task in an inappropriate fashion.
If there's one thing that we all have to learn, it's that we cannot drive our relationships on automatic pilot. On the contrary, we have to watch where we are headed, and make immediate course adjustments as necessary.
Azriel Winnett is the creator of Hodu. com - Your Communication Skills Portal. This popular website helps you to improve your communication and relationship skills on all levels, in business and professional life, in the family unit, and on the social scene. New articles added almost daily.