Stress and Communication

I got a speeding ticket the other day.  For someone who thrives on following rules and obeying the law, it was a devastating experience.  Driving around Orlando, I’d forgotten the speed limit on a street I’d traveled often before.  As I drove on this four lane street, another car entered the center median to head the same direction as me.  I wasn’t sure that she saw me so I sped up to get ahead of her.  I could have gotten in the right lane to get out of her way, but I was turning left in a couple blocks and didn’t think to do that.  Sure enough, I was traveling well over the speed limit (as I passed the speed limit sign no less) and was pulled over.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t handle confrontation well.  I became a blithering idiot when the cop motioned me over.  My eyes became fuzzy and my speech began to slur.  As I’m looking for my registration and insurance, the pages appeared blank to me.  The policeman is verbally helping me search for them in my handy-dandy paper holder which was not very organized. (Someday I’ll have to do something about that.)  I started pleading with my excuse of not knowing the speed limit but sounded quite pathetic to myself, and decided he didn’t want to hear it anyway.

The officer didn’t charge me what he could have (must have felt sorry for me) but I still had to do the online traffic school.  (I won’t even go into the stress it causes me to take a test.  What if I don’t get a 100%?)  Anyway, I finished traffic school,  paid the fine, and tried to put it all behind me.

I’m still bothered, though, at my response to the policeman when he pulled me over.  Not one that is quick with words, especially on the spot, I have great remorse for my inability to speak logically to this man.  I got so overwhelmed with emotions that I didn’t communicate very well.

This also happens to me in my marriage.  I have had to learn over the years to not react.  I have to wait until I’ve had time to work the words out in my mind.  They don’t overflow out of my mouth as majestically as they do out of my husbands.  Rick is the master of words.  I suppose that’s why I enjoy writing so much.  I have the time to find the words.
For many years I felt inferior to Rick because I'm not as quick with words.  I thought it must be tied in with my intelligence that I couldn’t recall the words I instantly needed.  Come to find out, there are a lot of us like that!  In fact, in most marriages, one person wants to talk about issues immediately while the other has to think about it first.  Maybe God made it that way so we aren’t always debating with our spouse, spending too much time with unnecessary words.
What really became obvious to me, though, through the traffic ticket experience, was the huge effect that stress plays on my communication.  Stressed out about being pulled over for disobeying the law, I struggled to share my side of the story and defend myself.  That bothered me the most - my inability to think and speak rationally.
Our communication is greatly affected by our emotions, the stress we’re under, tiredness, illness and anything else that distracts us from logical thinking.  We have to learn in our marriages how to avoid serious communication when we are adversely affected by outside factors. 

Communication is the key to success in a marriage and cannot be taken lightly.  As Rick always says, “If it’s so important to say, it can wait until tomorrow.”   Wait until you’ve thought it through or after you’ve been rested.  It’s okay to do that.  Hurtful words carelessly spoken can never be taken back.  Don’t let them fly out in the first place.  Or in my case, take the time to put them together in a well communicated order.


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