Chapter 7: My Husband Gets In Hot Water – I Want To Make Soup!

Are you a talker? Or do you prefer the written word? Are you the outspoken type or do you prefer quiet and will do almost anything to avoid conflict? Well, in the best of times, communication between spouses can be challenging. Throw in different communication preferences and it can seem almost impossible. In this excerpt, Red's in the midst of her crisis so communicating with her husband becomes even more critical than usual. And what does she do? She further complicates the situation by wanting to communicate differently than she usually does. Talk about a recipe for disaster!

P. S.This excerpt's relevant whether or not you're going through a crisis. In fact, communicating with others in a method they prefer is not only extremely effective, but may be one of the "secrets" to good communication. Especially as you can use it in all aspects of your life – family, friends, and even in the workplace.

Sometimes I wish I could be more like Black in that she seems to get away with being blunt, almost to the point of being rude, and yet she can pull it off because it is totally "in character" for her. There's a consistency and sense of predictability in how she handles things. And maybe that was part of Nick's and my problem right now. We were acting out of character.


I wanted to fight and talk about things while Nick wanted to "retreat." And we really didn't know how to deal with the changes. Which made communication even more important. And challenging!


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


Good morning.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Is it? Does that mean the love letter worked? Wink-wink.


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


Haven't written it yet, but I plan to.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Good. Remember when you came back to the States ready to divorce Nick? You were complaining that Nick did not communicate.


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


Yes. I think I know where this is going, but I hope I'm wrong.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Sounds like you remember the talking stuffed animals.


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


They didn't talk much, they wrote me letters.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Same difference. Nick communicated his feelings to you through letters "written" by stuffed animals. I remember specifically asking you if you really thought the animals had written to you.


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


Back then I thought it was cute and amusing, now it would piss me off because I want Nick, and not the stuffed animals, to talk to me.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


As I explained then, and it is still relevant, it does not matter how you two actually communicate as long as you communicate. Letters from stuffed animals, e-mails, conversations … whatever works!


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


OK. I had forgotten how that conversation ended up being a turning point. It helped me understand how we could work together. Maybe I should prop up one of the stuffed animals with the Real Estate section of today's paper and a note "I don't want to live on the street!"


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I might change the note to "I need a new home!" But otherwise … whatever works!

I never had intended to tell Black about the letters from the stuffed animals, as I thought she would find it childish and immature. It just slipped out. Looking back, I understood they were the best way for Nick to express himself, yet maintain his "proper" appearance. I forgot the important role those letters played. It was as if I now needed to take a step backwards and remember things that helped in the past, before I made decisions about how to move forward.

Chapter 7: My Husband Gets In Hot Water – I Want To Make Soup!

When Red was in the midst of her crisis and trying to deal with seemingly every aspect of her life, it quickly became obvious that she had been living in an old-fashioned sitcom where life appeared to be perfect. Adjusting to reality wouldn't be easy (now, that could be a sitcom!), especially when one of the biggest adjustments had to do with what she viewed as one of her strong suits – people skills. More specifically, her relationship with her husband because Red's expectations of her husband and her marriage definitely weren't related to reality.

P.S. – Since then, Red has learned about how important it is to have realistic expectations in any relationship, but when it comes to spouses/partners, it's essential. And Black has (finally) gotten her to realize that you need to be honest with yourself (ideally about both you and your partner), so that you set your relationship up for success, not failure. But Red will add a warning … understanding the logic of this mindset and approach is much easier than accepting and implementing it. Although she'll agree with Black that it's worth the effort if it results in a more successful relationship.

E-mail From: Black
Subject: Perception vs. Reality
Sent: Saturday, February 7

Not really, or at least nothing that I know of. But our marriage is not paradise. I went into it knowing I had made trade-offs and compromises. And that is OK. I had no false expectations. But at times I have to stop and ask myself if either of us has changed or whether I have merely forgotten to adjust my thinking for changing circumstances. I always thought Larry and I had the potential to be great together. Not because we were a perfect couple, but because we were an imperfect couple that appreciated our differences.

But when it comes to you and Nick … the two of you need to face reality. Together. As a team.

By the way, how is your house-hunting going? That is a perfect place to start working together. And a lot more productive than wasting the afternoon online with me.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I found Black's comment about having a great marriage very interesting since I didn't think it existed in real life. However, her comment got me thinking that maybe my expectations of marriage needed to be adjusted to be more realistic. I guess I was thinking a great or even really good marriage was one where two people were perfect for one another. One where there were never any major issues that tested the relationship. One where problems had obvious and easy answers. One that ran on automatic and didn't require any special effort. OK, so I was living in a fantasy world. Nothing new there!

Chapter 7: My Husband Gets In Hot Water – I Want To Make Soup!

One of the hardest lessons Red had to learn during her crisis (partially because she was adamantly resisting it) was one that Black couldn't believe she didn't already know – that marriage (and relationships) isn't all flowers and romantic dinners, but is about teamwork, with an emphasis on work. As well as realizing that life isn't fair, which means teamwork can be 50-50 one day and 90-10 the next.

P.S. – Over the years, Red learned that the concept of teamwork applies to families, not just marriages. Although she sometimes gets so focused on the challenges of being a single mom that she forgets Black's analogy about teamwork. So, falls back into the habit of acting (remember, she was a theater major) the martyr rather than being part of a team that works together.



Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


… Stop complaining that your life is no longer perfect. Shut up, suck it up and work at it.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


Thanks for the sugar coating! And for the record, I don't mind the work. What I mind is that I feel like I'm the only one working.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


That is because you are doing more than you are used to doing and you do not think Nick is doing anything extra.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


True. And I don't think it's fair!


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Yes, it is. It all averages out. The first few years I was racing the Ferrari, my crew did not have to do much to the car on race weekends. Basically "nut and bolt" her, fill her with fuel, and clean the windshield. The car was new, I kept my nose clean and stayed out of accidents and away from the walls. Then late one afternoon I had a minor "sharing of paint" with someone, and they needed to stay late and work on the car. I apologized to the crew. My crew chief, Scott, explained that was their job. The fact that it had been easy up until then was fine, but they were always prepared to do whatever it took to keep my car racing. A marriage is no different.

Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


I don't think you can compare racing a Ferrari to a marriage. One is an expensive hobby, and one is your life!
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Chapter 8: It's Time To Take Charge Of The Charge Cards

Red, the straight-A student who loves history, would normally love to engage in a conversation about history. But in the midst of her crisis, preoccupied with trying to deal with her family's financial situation, she didn't have the desire nor see the point in getting a history lesson. And from her sister, no less, who hates history. But that should have been Red's first clue that it would be very pragmatic, highly relevant, and "instantly translatable" to her situation and daily life.

P.S. – Black's history lesson would change how Red looked at credit cards, not only then but to this day. And based on feedback from others (men and women of all ages, and even students), something as unexpected as understanding the original purpose of those little plastic cards (and now mobile wallets, although we both still do it the old-fashioned way) can dramatically change one's perspective on how to use them.



Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


Quick call. I think it be might be helpful for you to understand the history of credit cards.


Red's Head assets.rebelmouse.io


What ever happened to "Hello?" I'm trying to come to grips with our own personal credit card history, and even that's more than I want to know. I don't think knowing the history of credit cards is going to help me deal with our personal dilemma. I'm not sure anything will help.


Black's Head Black assets.rebelmouse.io


I know you feel overwhelmed, and I have no desire to continually look backwards, but sometimes understanding history helps you. It did when we looked at the history of your spending habits.


Red's Head Red assets.rebelmouse.io


It doesn't sound like you're going to drop this, so can you at least make it quick?
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