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How To Love Your Cop
How To Love Your Cop

Ch 4: Code Four Communication – The Man-Woman Thing

The Man-Woman Thing

I like to joke that when God took a rib from Adam to make Eve, He took a whole lot more than just a bone. He also took the multitasking gene, the tendency to nurture, and the ability to ask for directions! But seriously, not only do we deal with our differences in personalities, we also have the man-woman thing.

So many people are irritated with the obvious differences between males and females. I’ve seen a lot of women try to change their guys, make an attempt to get them in touch with their feminine side. Men seem to either joke or just shake their heads at female tendencies. It is almost impossible to truly understand the inner workings of the opposite sex. It’s a fact: we are different! So how can we live together in harmony?

I say accept the differences and learn to appreciate them. Be who you are as a woman. Let him be who he is as a man. Accept the fact that he can’t say as many words as you do in a day and find other outlets (like other females) for the rest of your important thoughts and ideas. Celebrate his ability to be firm with the kids when you waver, and celebrate that you want to hug your little sweetie for as long as she needs. Understand that the best way to talk to your guy is when you do something together. Women like to talk face to face, but men talk best side by side.

We were made to work together. Like a key fits into a lock, our physical anatomy is definitely suited to each other. But it doesn’t end with anatomy. Our personality traits, strengths, and natural tendencies are so different it seems for some that we could never be compatible. But with the right attitude and enough time, you and your husband can learn to ebb and flow with each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It is a beautiful thing to behold a couple with this kind of balance.

Love Languages

“I just don’t feel loved by my husband…” I have heard this from many women throughout the years. Usually her husband actually loves her deeply but isn’t able to show her in the way she can receive it. This too is about speaking a different language. In Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, he describes five ways in which people feel loved. They are quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch, and acts of service. Each person has at least one of these ways they feel loved, and they tend to show love this way as well. A problem arises when both spouses have different love languages. More often than not, this is the case.

Say that Sue’s love language is words of affirmation, and Raymond’s is acts of service. Sue will naturally tell Raymond she loves him often, but he would feel more loved if she offered to take his uniforms to the dry cleaners. Raymond will show Sue he loves her by washing her car, but she wants to hear how he loves her and why. Do you get the rub?

Just knowing how to speak each other’s love language can improve your communication dramatically. It takes a choice on two fronts: choose to show love in his language, and recognize his love language toward you and appreciate it. Better yet, get proactive; talk about love languages together and use the knowledge to love each other more effectively.

January 28th, 2013

Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder

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Ch 4: Code Four Communication: Getting outside yourself

They say marriages are made in heaven. But so are thunder and lightning.

Clint Eastwood

 

Words of comfort, skillfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man.

Louis Nizer

A sleek, black Lexus caught my eye in the next lane. Wow. It was shiny and new, and the sun hit it just right. It’s a good thing I noticed it because all of a sudden it cut me off! So I’m driving behind this gorgeous car, and I veered into the left turning lane (with my signal on). Again, this Lexus cut me off to do the same (but without a signal). What?! Am I supposed to know where he’s going?!

As we both made the left turn, he made a quick right into a gas station, once again with no signal. Because I’d kept my distance for my own car’s sake, it wasn’t dramatic, but it made me mad. Such a beautiful vehicle but the driver was clueless!

I call this “driving on the inside of the car,” and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves. There are many of these people on the road—those who don’t think to let others know what they’re doing by flipping a simple switch. (Actually, when I think about it, it really shouldn’t bug me. It is, after all, job security for my husband! But I digress…)

It’s called a failure to communicate. And it doesn’t just happen on the road. It happens in relationships every day. Someone is acting on the thoughts inside her head, and she expects others to be able to understand exactly what she’s doing and why. But if she doesn’t give out the proper signals, she runs the risk of making someone angry or, worse, causing damage to herself and others.

Lost in Translation

Communication can be so tricky at times. Words come from deep within a person’s soul and heart. They come with a set of values, experiences, and personal makeup. On the other end, the same words are received into a new set of values, experiences, and different personal makeup. At times I speak a different language from my husband. I can speak a different language from my kids, my mother-in-law, or fill in the blank.

Much of our communication gets lost in translation. If good communication is critical for a lasting relationship, how can we learn to speak each other’s language?

The most obvious way is to spend time with each other. That’s a no brainer. But what about when things change, like when a child is born or a critical incident occurs? What about when time goes by, you lose touch, and suddenly you are clueless to what’s going on with your husband?

Colorful Personalities

Brent and I had reached a point in our marriage where we were in a rut, struggling to understand each other. We were clashing, not in sync, and we were both frustrated. Then Brent brought home a book called The Delicate Art of Dancing with Porcupines, by Bob Phillips. This book is based on four types of people— the analytical, the driver, the expressive, and the amiable— and explores how these people interact and communicate. [i] We answered the questions in the book and were amazed at the results.

When I understood the natural tendencies of my husband, it was a huge “aha” moment and vice versa. We spent a couple of hours laughing over each other’s tendencies and how we differ. It gave us freedom to be ourselves and a non-threatening way to give each other the freedom to be who we are. It was a huge step toward understanding each other, and our relationship has only gotten better because of it. When we come to a situation from two different sides, we are able to see where each other is coming from and then come to a better solution for both.

We also learned about a similar program through our church that was adapted from several sources. This tool categorizes people into colors based on personalities. Red people love fun and are very talkative. Blue people tend to be caretakers, romantic, cooperative, and peacemakers. Green people are problem solvers, leaders, and logical in their thinking. Yellow people are planners, punctual, and structured. We became more self-aware and learned how our colors respond to each other.

Brent is a green, and I am a blue-red combo. Bring our kids into the mix and we have all four colors represented. In moments of peace, we all actually talk about what colors we are. It helps to understand why we do what we do and react how we react. It is a valuable tool to step outside of ourselves and see each other with different eyes.


[i]     Bob Phillips, The Delicate Art of Dancing with Porcupines, (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1989) page 43.

January 21st, 2013

Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder

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Ch 3: Creating Your Own Normal – Sometimes You Just Have to be Brave

Sometimes You Just Have To Be Brave

The laughter was deafening. Emily found herself laughing along; although because she didn’t really know these people, she felt a touch uncomfortable. Clara had just opened her white-elephant gift: a set of five condoms. It was definitely appropriate for the crowd. They were all recently married, and everyone’s husband or wife was present. That is, everyone’s spouse but Emily’s. Emily’s husband was on duty.

It was her turn. She looked over the gifts that were beautifully wrapped underneath the tree. She chose a gorgeous red box tied with a silver bow. As she started to poke at the ribbon, she thought she heard a guy whisper, “Oh, no.” Too late! At first when Emily opened the box, she had no idea what it was. She lifted it out, and, of course, everyone howled. “What is this?” she asked. Her face flushed crimson as she heard someone shout, “Edible underwear!”

Sometimes you just have to be brave. When events come up, and your husband is working, go. You never know what that event may hold! There will be times when your loneliness will increase because you really wish he was there. But, more often than not, you’ll make a memory. Or laugh trying. Sometimes you’ll even gain a new friend.

When Brent was a cadet in the academy, I drove home after visiting him in Sacramento. It was very dark, and I was on a stretch of rural highway in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly my car sputtered, coughed, jerked a few times, and I found myself rolling, powerless, to the side of the road. Annoyed, I got out of the car, went around to the front, and froze. I saw small flames flickering underneath. In a panic I lost all sense of safety and waved my arms at a few cars that came by. Finally a young man stopped, put out the fire with some water he had in his car, and assured me everything was okay. There was a spooky-looking house several yards away, and about that time, a flashlight approached. “Do ya need to use a phone?” the creepy resident asked. I flashed a look of fear to the young man, and he accompanied me into the house while I called a tow truck and family. An hour later I was on my way home.

This was the first time I had to solve a problem like this all by myself. It was scary! Brent was unavailable, my dad was out of town, and I had to grow up and deal. It was good for me. Since that night I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to take care of problems on my own: hospital visits, car repairs, issues with teachers, landlords, and tenants, you name it. Brent helps me when he can, but, for the most part, I’ve learned I can hold down the fort quite well.

It would be easy to resent situations like these. It would be easy to resent him for not being there. But a sense of survival or duty can take over if you allow it. In fact, you can even choose to gain a sense of accomplishment from learning new skills. This is the kind of strength we can use to build our new normal.

A word of caution here:  We married rescuers. Our guys want to be needed. We must keep this in mind, making sure that we don’t become so independent that we cease to need them. I’m talking about balance here, and there is no formula. We have to figure this out with our spouses. Interdependence is the goal, but when our cops aren’t able to do something, we have to pick up the slack.

Make It Work!

Christmas doesn’t have to be celebrated Christmas morning. The Fourth of July picnic can be on the third, and you’ll enjoy it more with less people around!  Vacations don’t have to be in the summer months. And days off don’t have to be on Saturday and Sunday. Vacations, holidays, and schedules are yours to tweak to make it work. Each season of your life will have additional considerations. But if you’re willing to think outside the box, you’ll be surprised how well events turn out. Brent always liked to work Christmas Eve. It was generally quiet, so he’d have the guys who didn’t have families nearby come to the house even if we had other guests. He asked me to “work my magic” in the kitchen and spoil them with flavor. I loved every minute of it. We have very fond memories of candles from the table casting a warm glow on their badges. And there was always laughter with a cop at the table.

Expectations

If you expect that your life is supposed to look like your dad’s office job, you will be disappointed. If you expect your husband to make every single event you plan and on time, you will be disappointed. If you don’t try to be creative in making memories that include your husband, you will be disappointed. If you refuse to solve some of the problems that arise when he’s on duty, you’ll have trouble.

The attitude of strength here is flexibility. Creating your own normal and recreating normal are an integral part of a long-lasting law-enforcement marriage. Choosing to be flexible and optimistic in the face of unmet expectations is tough at times but necessary. Managing those expectations with flexibility and optimism ahead of time is even better. Communicating those expectations is another matter altogether.

January 14th, 2013

Posted In: A CHiP on My Shoulder

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FEARLESS 2013

Chief and I were on Interstate 5 somewhere in central California when he asked me a question. It was one of those moments. Like when you see smoke rising from a discharged revolver. Or taser darts that grabbed high and low – a perfect hit. Or the boot print on my assets. It was a question that opened up a long forgotten door to my inner self, shedding light on an issue that was meant to be hidden.

I hate when he does that.

Well, not really. Because after the initial hot alligator tears of anger comes gradual relief as I see the silhouette of an obstacle. And like all obstacles, it’s in the way.

Obstacles are kind of like hurdles. And that word right there conjures up memories of gym class eons ago when the coach put out those white L-shaped contraptions on a perfectly good track. My palms get a little sweaty just thinking about it. For those of you who I’ve not met in person, I’ll clue you in. I’m short. And I was blessed with Scottish genes that gave me muscular thighs that should move fast but don’t and a long torso. This translates to very few hurdles left intact after I’ve bumbled through. It’s a wonder I kept all my teeth through the track and field weeks. My knees and elbows still bear the scars of blood long lost on hurdle day.

Chief’s question made me very much aware that I struggle with fear. Fear of heights. Fear of failure. Fear of dying when I run too long. The list goes on a little further, but I think you get the point.

As I made peace with this new realization, I was reminded of a picture my aunt gave me on my 40th birthday. It was a picture of a little blond girl of maybe four years old, running full force through the grass, a look of pure delight and excitement on her face. She had bright eyes and a huge laughing smile. It was me. My aunt wrote a note that said this is how she sees me, even now. It was my favorite gift that year.

With that picture in mind and the fear obstacle in front of me, I made the decision to tackle my fears in 2013. To sprint full force toward the things that scare me, and leave no fear hurdle unturned, even if I have to skin my knees along the way. My word for this year is FEARLESS.

I plan to run a marathon late in the year, with little races on the way. For my 25th anniversary I’m having Chief take me to Maui to learn to surf. And this summer I will jump out of an airplane. There are other goals and fears that I want to tackle as well. It’ll be a new season of adventure!

What about you? Want to join me? What word will be the theme of your 2013? What’s your game plan? I’d love to hear.

January 4th, 2013

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