Monday, December 5, 2011

Shared Meanings

In all relationships, meanings are formed as people interpret what they perceive and construct a sense of reality. Family meanings are developed as members interpret their behaviors through communication. For instance, my husband and I are working on telling each other what meaning we attach to certain things. For instance, last Thursday he surprised me with a Starbucks drink. This was very special to me! I told him that when he brings me "fancy" coffees unexpectedly, I feel loved and special to him. Yes, this sounds a bit stilted when I say it, but it's creating a shared meaning for us.

When behaviors are interpreted in the same way or interpretations are discussed and clarified, similar meanings emerge, and communication becomes clearer. This is our goal with trying to tell each other how we interpret various actions. As communication becomes clearer, conflict decreases and relationship satisfaction increases. THAT'S a great outcome!

Christmas is a great time to think about shared meanings and how they form. Lots of times we have certain "rituals" in our Christmas celebrations and we have a great deal of meaning attached to them...but our spouse may not. For instance, perhaps Christmas cookie baking symbolizes to you a time of shared joy as members bond during baking. Yet, your spouse may think Publix cookies are just as good and baking them is a waste of time. When you try to rally the troops to bake, your spouse may not support you. I see lots of tears and anger when efforts to bond are thwarted.  

Now is the time to talk about what the Christmas preparations  mean to you and ask what they mean to your spouse. If there is disagreement, then work through to a meaning you both can agree on. This might just bring more peace to your holidays. 

Happy Communicating~

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