Friday, July 8, 2011

Bow Chicka Bow Wow: Decoding Becky

Jeff and I have been learning about communication in marriage.

Yeesh.

Emerson Eggerichs, founder of Love & Respect, says couples say the same thing and mean something completely different. His example:

"I have nothing to wear."

When a woman says this, she means, "I have nothing new."

When a man says this, he means, "I have nothing clean."

Emerson is right. Jeff and I speak different languages. Emerson says we have to decode. Decode, decode, decode.

We bring our different languages to the conflict resolution table. We try to express how we feel, but we're not very good at it, as it turns out. We each try to say, "I feel hurt," but what comes out is, "You did this."

Therefore, the other person typically doesn't respond with, "I'm sorry you feel hurt." They respond, understandably, with, "I did not do that."

Then the hurt person feels invalidated and makes more accusations.

Then the other person gets more defensive and makes accusations of their own.

Then there's a fight.

Yeesh.

So our pastor taught Jeff and me a new method of conflict resolution.

It's not rocket science. It's quite simple, actually. (Which is good. Because when I feel hurt, I can't remember to follow very many steps at a time.)

Here it is.

The Hurtee:

1) Feel hurt. :)
2) Say what happened. Just the facts. Not what you think the other person's motive was.
3) Say how the incident made you feel.
4) Stop. Pray. Leave the other person's response up to God. Do not demand an apology.

The Hurter:

1) Acknowledge that the other person feels hurt.
2) Listen.
3) Repeat their feeling statements back to them.
4) Stop. Pray. Leave your defense up to God. Do not demand understanding.

You can also say things like, "Wow, I had no idea you felt all that. I did not want you to feel that way at all! I am so sorry!"

This method has been working for us, and we like it. Apart from one tiny little snag...

It has come to my attention that I have no emotional vocabulary whatsoever. I cannot even identify my emotions to myself, much less put them into words that I have to articulate to Jeff. I know that I have feelings, but usually, the why and wherefore eludes me completely.

Therefore, Jeff has made it his priority these days to decode me. I don't like it very much. There's a reason I lost touch with my feelings. There are lots of reasons, actually. So being asked how I feel, even by my best friend, puts me in a very uncomfortable position. It makes me feel... mmmmm... something negative. :)

And while I understand that "You did this" doesn't communicate what I really want to say, right now, I don't yet know how to say what I really do want to say. I have trouble decoding myself.

To that end, I scoured the internet for feelings charts and found a few helpful ones. I've been consulting them when I know I'm upset. I call them my Becky Decoder.

Last night, using my Becky Decoder, I successfully articulated the negative emotions that arose within me when Jeff was two hours later than I thought he would be and I had not heard from him.

The root feeling was fear. That he was dead. Above that came anxiety, concern, and helplessness. Piled on that was frustration. To top it off, I felt abandoned, ignored, neglected, and unloved.

That's a lot of feelings to feel in response to your husband forgetting to tell you that he's going to the vortex that is Lowe's.

But Jeff was able to decode my feelings with me, accept me where I was emotionally, and sum me up in one, affectionate, articulate phrase.

"So... what you're saying is... you missed me."

Yes.

Wait. I can do better.

YES! :)

It feels so good... wait, let me consult my Becky Decoder... it feels so reassuring to be understood. It feels hopeful. And fulfilling. And safe. And something that means the opposite of lost. Found. Is found a feeling? Known. Loved. Not alone. What's the opposite of alone? I don't know. This is exhausting.

Anyway, my point is that being decoded makes me feel very, very happy. :)

So does this song. Which is all about decoding. And perfectly describes us. Jeff is the guy who is taking the time to translate, and I am his baby. :)



Bow chicka bow wow
That's what my baby says
Mow, mow, mow
And my heart starts pumpin'
Chicka chicka choo whop
Never gonna stop
Gitchee gitchee goo means that I love you!

My baby's got her own way of talkin'
Whenever she says somethin' sweet
And she knows it's my world she's a-rockin'
Though my vocabulary's incomplete

I know it may sound confusing
Sometimes I wish she'd give it to me straight
But I never feel like I'm losing
When I take the time to translate
Here's what I'm talkin' 'bout

Bow chicka bow wow
That's what my baby says
Mow, mow, mow
And my heart starts pumpin'
Chicka chicka choo whop
Never gonna stop
Gitchee gitchee goo means that I love you

Well, I don't know what to do
(I don't know what to do)
But I think I'm gettin' through
(I think I'm gettin' through)
'Cuz when I say, "I love you,"
(When I say, "I love you,")
She says, "I gitchee gitchee goo you toooooo."
Gitchee gitchee goo you toooooo
Gitchee gitchee goo you toooooo
Gitchee gitchee goo you too!
Don't need a dictionary!

Bow chicka bow wow
That's what my baby says
Mow, mow, mow
And my heart starts pumpin'
Chicka chicka choo whop
Never gonna stop
Gitchee gitchee goo means that I love you!

I said a-bow chicka bow wow
That's what my baby says
Mow, mow, mow
And my heart starts pumpin'
Chicka chicka choo whop
I'm never gonna stop
Gitchee gitchee goo means that I love you!
Gitchee gitchee goo means that I love you!
Gitchee gitchee goo means
That I love you, baaaaaaby! Baaaaaaby! Baaaaaabyyyyy!
(Baby, baby, baby, baby)
Gitchee gitchee goo means that I love you!