Content Communication

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!


15 thoughts on “Content Communication”

  1. My idea of a perfect gift. I also like it feels very personal when it is done just for me because it was important to me. It is a sacrifice for me. I got shelves built one year, rooms painted another–it doesn’t get better than that for me. Love you and Happy Birthday!

  2. Sounds great! Especially the part of not having the kids around, that’s usually what slows organizing down. Have a Happy Bday!!

  3. I just had this overwhelming love for good men. I have always loved Chad (just as a friend mind you!), and I love that there are good men in this world who love and stand by their wives. Men who are faithful and willing to serve and who are happy to be kind. I’m so grateful to have a good man of my own!

  4. Loved this post and LOVE you for who you are. I laughed the whole way through. For my birthday next week I asked Tyler to take the day off so I can get my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows done without having to arrange babysitters. Maybe I should re-consider and ask him to help me organize the garage? 🙂 We still need to do dinner…maybe a late celebration in March. Have the best day!

  5. I’m trying this with Kyle!!!! I can relate to the entire post. I am constantly asking him to clean out the garage which is full of crap that we never use (and never will use). I’m making that my gift for this year 🙂

  6. This is awesome. And man, that chad…what a guy. Love that photo of him. A superb gift and communication to celebrate the birthday girl. Happy belated birthday!!

  7. Happy birthday! You are a great example! Glad it was a fun weekend. Sure was fun to have your cute kids in primary on Sunday!

  8. Happy Birthday! I wrote my husband an email and told him exactly the flowers I wanted for valentines day….It’s an orchid plant to remind me of our trip to Hawaii last month. That plus a sincere card is all I want! I don’t even need dinner out or chocolates (my waistline either).

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