Professor's House

Subtle Hints Don’t Work – Get to the Point if you want Results

You desperately want the trash taken out. You know the trash man is coming tomorrow morning before you wake up and you don’t want to be left with a stinky bag of disgusting onion peels and left over foods for a week. You also don’t want to do it because you feel like you have done enough for the day. So you begin making comments like, look the trashcan is overflowing, wow-that trash really stinks, does the trash man come tomorrow, or even whose turn is it to take out the trash? The whole time your spouse is sitting on the computer playing on Facebook, nodding and barely paying you any attention. You get angrier and angrier and suddenly its midnight – and the trash is still sitting in the kitchen, stinkier than ever and definitely not roadside where the trash truck will get it. Ugh! It should be obvious at this point, that subtle hints don’t work in a marriage whether it is trash or making love that you are trying to do. And really, how hard would it have been to just say, ‘Honey, can you take out the trash right now before the trash man comes?’

When you got married, you probably believed you found your soul mate. You dreamed that this soul mate came with a built in operating system that could automatically and almost innately pick up on your inner most thoughts and desires without you saying a word. Perhaps you believed that you have developed a language based on your heartstrings or something similarly naive. Then when your spouse doesn’t magically pick up on your subtle hints and cues you over react and question the entirety of your marriage. In the larger scheme of things, this slightly ridiculous way of dreamy thinking can easily be avoided by being direct with one another. The more direct you are, the clearer your’ communication will be, and the less fluff and filler you will have to sift through to make your marriage work. So, why are so many people afraid to be forthcoming when it comes to their marriage?

Women are constantly accused of being nagging biddies. Men are typically accused of being child like in a marriage and completely clueless. What happens in the beginning is the men and women are trying so hard NOT to fall into these stereotypical roles with the hopes that their marriage will be different. They also don’t want to upset their partners by seeming argumentative or demanding because the fear of things not working out is skirting the outsides of their mind. After all, marriage is supposed to be perfect! So instead couples rely on a certain amount of secret speak to get our point across. For instance, the next morning, with the trash still in the kitchen you are stomping and pouting around the house. Your husband, still clueless can tell you are upset about something. When he wraps his arm around you definitely in the mood for some early morning making love, you pull away and act irritated. Then he asks you if you are mad about something and you say ‘No’ and move in another direction. This can go on for hours or days, depending on your relationship, as you employ even more subtle hints that you are pissed. Fast forward a few months or years and hundreds of left behind trash bags later and the two of you are still no closer to a solution. Laughable? Ridiculous? Divorcing over the trash?

The thing is that what started benignly as a silent disagreement over the trash has you taking the trash out every week with resentment. If the trash bag breaks while you are carrying it to the curb ‘spilling beans and coffee grounds all over the yard, you become even more enraged and then the fight takes on a new and more powerful form of resentment. The snowball effect is in motion and it is obvious your subtle hints aren’t working, but you desperately want your husband to figure it out on his own. Because if he did, this would show that he loves you. If he picked up on your clues, you would know that things are meant to be. But wouldn’t it be easier to just come out with the truth in the very beginning. Withholding information from your spouse and trying to hide your feelings is as good as lying or infidelity. It breaks the deal of marriage with unrealistic expectations and puts you in a position of never being satisfied. It really isn’t your partner’s fault. Sure, he should recognize the trash situation for what it is; but just because he doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. And chances are, if you told him how you felt and were direct with a comment like ‘I don’t think I should take out the trash, could that be your job around the house from now on’ you would get much further. Chances are he would still need reminding (no offense men) but at least it wouldn’t be blow out of normal proportion.

By the time most marriages stop using subtle hints to express their feelings, decades have passed. Millions of trash bags and missed opportunities for sex have flown by and couples find that they are often angry and filled with resentment about so many things that it is difficult to work through it. Then they become ultra direct, less concerned about falling into a typical marital role and completely unconcerned about each other’s feelings. Bingo suddenly each and every person in the marriage knows where the other stands. Marriage suddenly becomes easier and guess what, the trash gets taken out. The real trash and the metaphorical trash that can linger and litter a marriage. The point is, being direct with another may not be easy at first, because we strive for things to work out. But the truth is that very few people know what someone else is thinking whether they are married to them or not. Subtle hints don’t work in your favor and being as direct with your spouse as you would be with a stranger can take your miles down the road toward a successful and fulfilling marriage. In short the next time you want the trash taken out, just say so! Not only will it get put out, but it won’t become an issue that drives you into divorce court.

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