Bombarded With Words?

“I wake up, and my wife starts talking. I hear some of them, and some of them I don’t.”

     Do you ever wake up and feel like you’re being bombarded with words? This happens to me quite frequently. I wake up, and my wife starts talking. I hear some of them, and some of them I don’t. It takes a while for me to fully awaken. I am usually in a daze for the first 30 minutes or so. I take a bath and that helps to get me going. But a lot of the first movements and decisions are habits that I have been doing for years like rolling out of bed, getting my bath towel, turning on the water, washing myself with the soap, drying off, brushing my teeth, putting my clothes on, etc. I don’t have to use a lot of brainpower for the first 30 minutes. I don’t talk.

My wife is what I like to call a “Painter”. She needs to express her thoughts through words.

     However, my wife wakes up and just starts talking. She asks me questions, tells me about her dream, talks about her plans for the day, talks about work, discusses family, etc. She’ll jump from one subject to next and not miss a beat. For myself, I may hear the first few words or none at all. Many times, after she has finished talking for about 5 minutes. I’ll say, “What did you say?” and she gets mildly frustrated. Or probably more times than not, I will ask her what she was talking about right before we depart in the morning. She is good about telling me what she said earlier without being upset. After she tells me again, I ask clarification questions and end with a summary of what I thought I heard. Many times, she replies with an affirmative.

Here’s Something You May Not Realize Is Happening…

     So what is going on here? Of course, my wife is a morning person and I am not. But there is something else.

     1.) My wife is what I like to call a “Painter”. She needs to express her thoughts through words. For her emotional well-being, she must talk about what is on her mind. Many times, there are multiple things. She needs to talk about each one of these out loud to get her bearings. It helps her organize her thoughts. She may jump from one to the other all in the same conversation. At times, she may get emotional (excited, frustrated, confused, etc.) while she is talking. As a “Painter”, this is all normal and healthy.

     2.) I am what I like to call a “Pointer”. I do not need to talk so much. I am content many times to just think about things without talking. I may think in detail about one subject for quite a while, but not express it verbally. I may relay information without much emotion. Usually, I am focused on just one goal. In the morning, that goal is to get to work. All of my decisions and thoughts pertain to that one goal – what clothes am I to wear, what to eat, what time is it, how much gas is in the car, etc.  (Want some advice on getting a pointer to talk?  Read this article.)

Here’s How We Make It Work…

     So although I am non-verbal in the morning while my wife is talking a lot, and I am focused on one goal while my wife is thinking about multiple issues, we are still able to make our communication work. How does that happen?

She does not take it personally, and shut herself off. She accepts me as a “Pointer.”

     1.) First of all, my wife realizes that I am a “Pointer” and not a morning person. So, she has patience with me. She is not offended when I do not engage her in deep conversation right after I wake up. She continues to open up and talk to me. She does not take it personally, and shut herself off. She accepts me as a “Pointer.”

     2.) I acknowledge her need to talk and process what is on her mind. I do not shut her down or belittle her. I allow her to talk even though I might not be hearing all of it. I don’t tell her to “shut up.” I make her feel safe to talk it out.

     3.) We come together before we depart. We intentionally make time to talk to each other before we leave. We engage each other. I ask her what she was talking about. She readily tells me. I summarize what she said to make sure I understand correctly. We don’t leave until we both feel confident that we understand each other. Sometimes, if there is a lot we need to communicate to each other, we write it down in a list format to help us to remember.

We intentionally make time to talk to each other before we leave. We engage each other.

     So although initially it may seem like we are not communicating well, we make it work by our patience, understanding, and effort. How is your morning talk with your spouse? Are there areas that you need to work on? Interested in marriage counseling?

*”Painter/Pointer” is a concept developed by Dr. David Ludwig, professor at Lenior-Rhyne University.

Posted by Vincent Ketchie | Marriage Counselor

Vincent Ketchie, LPC is a marriage counselor, but also counsels men and teenagers. He is married to Laura. They have a son and two dogs. His favorite verse is "I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live but Christ lives within me..." Galatians 2:20

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