Not only is today my birthday, but I am now the big 4-0!
Society puts a little pressure on this birthday. I am supposed to have a surprise party or lots of black balloons around or be on a fun trip to Hawaii. I could tell my husband was feeling a little bit of this pressure to make this particular birthday special. So I sat him down awhile back and used content communication.
In my world, content communication means to say exactly what you mean and want. You don’t use some code or some ‘woman language’ with hints and subthemes or manipulation. With content communication you state your thoughts and opinions directly.
So I stated very clearly: I don’t want a surprise party. And I didn’t. There is nothing in me that likes to be the center of social attention. My baby showers, wedding showers, and birthday parties all made me feel very uncomfortable.
But then I went on to say that just because I didn’t want a surprise party, doesn’t mean that I don’t want anything. (When I turned 30, I said the same thing. No surprise party! Well, Chad interpreted that to mean no nothing– no gift, no card, no dinner out, no date. Somehow “no surprise party” translated into I “I am completely off the hook for my wife’s birthday and do not have to acknowledge the day in any way. When I called him on his neglect, he said, “Well, you said, “No surprise party!”)
10 years later, I am wiser and needed to clarify for him that I still wanted to celebrate my birthday (more content communication). Our conversation went something like this:
Chad: What do you want to do for your birthday?
Me: I want you to help me clean out the office. I want us to go through all the stacks of papers and file and sort and toss. I want to get our paperwork, office and lives in order and I need your help to do it.
Chad: That is the lamest present I have ever heard of. I can’t do that for your 40th birthday!
Me: Yes, you can. You asked me what I want and this is what I want.
Chad: But it is so boring.
Me: It is my birthday, not yours. When it is your birthday we can go do all the fun things you want. But it is my birthday and I want to file.
I think Chad was feeling a little pressure that his gift had to be something a little more showy — something worthy of a Facebook status update or an Instagram pic. But I assured him that I was using content communication. I was stating what I really wanted — he didn’t have to guess or read between the lines or decode anything.
Weeks passed and I wasn’t sure what he was going to do for my birthday. Would he grant my wish or meets society’s standard for a 40th birthday?
A couple of days before he told me his plan: He was going to take Friday off and file in the office all day. We would also spend part of Saturday organizing and dejunking. He arranged for the kids to go to my mom’s and then his mom’s so we had 2 nights alone to tackle the neglected paper piles. I was ecstatic! (He threw in a movie, dinner out and some Nordstrom gift cards so he could feel good about the gift too.)
Chad held to his word and we worked side by side for 2 days. Here he in the middle of the paper piles:
There was no party, no balloons, no cake, no box with a bow, but I am completely happy with my birthday gift.
I love that my husband and I both understand and use content communication in our marriage. We are passed hints and induendos and reading between the lines. We say what we mean and mean what we say. I am so happy I used content communication with my husband, and I am even happier that he listened. Thanks to Chad for giving me the lamest gift ever so I could usher in my 40s with a clean and organized office!