What Is It You Want?

Warren and I had many moments of intense “fellowship” when we first got married.  We had great communication skills while we were dating, but any of you who are married or have been married, know that iron begins to sharpen iron when you move in with someone.  We bragged about how much we had in common, then we got married and God’s sense of humor kicked in after He removed the rose-colored glasses.  I began to appreciate the song, “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

Learning to communicate in a healthy way was a growing process.

Hello! Did You Hear What I Thought?

One of the things Warren taught me is how to communicate in a way he could hear me.  There is a vast difference in the way men and women hear and understand each other.  It takes both sides working together to master this evolving art, or at least to come to a common ground of understanding.  Warren would say to me, “Honey, I don’t know if you don’t tell me.”  What a concept!  I actually had to open my mouth and put to words my thoughts and emotions.  There were many times that feelings were made verbal, but because it didn’t make sense to one or the other the feelings were dismissed.  We both had to learn how to first listen, think about what we had heard, and then we had to respond with words to express what we were thinking and feeling.  This is not an easy task for the majority because we are a society largely made up of the walking wounded, but it is possible with effort.  It helped that Warren and I grew to trust each other and knew we were safe to openly share what was going on inside – whether it was right or wrong.  The only way to find the truth in our strong moments of dialog was to talk it out.

Others do not know what you do not tell them.

Male or female, we all create a dialog in our mind of what we would like to say or hear other people say to us.  Do you ever catch yourself carrying on a two-way conversation with others in your head?  The best illustration I’ve heard to describe this process is, it’s like a movie reel is playing out in our mind, as if we’re writing a screenplay in our imagination of what we think or feel should happen.  The biggest problem with this is no one else has the script, and me, myself, and I, are always right.  This is where the problem begins.  When others do not follow the script we’ve written for them we get hurt, the hurt turns to anger, and we build a defensive wall between ourselves and the other person or parties involved.  Most likely they are unaware of what our thoughts and feeling have developed into.  At best, they’ve begun to sense that something is wrong by a new tension in the atmosphere.  This is when their own theatrics are given a mental pen as they write a play totally unique to yours.

The private conversations of our mind almost always cause a sad and devastating wedge that can last for years, or even a lifetime if the two sides remain isolated in silence.  It takes great courage and a the swallowing of pride to listen to the other person, hear what they are saying/feeling, and then respond with gentleness and love.  If we refuse to do so, the deceptive monster will grow larger and larger and more destructive to the relationship.

Let me remember that I am not always right.

As a child, do you ever remember being scared of the boogeyman in the closet, or fearing the giant shadow on the wall?  That fear and anxiety would grow stronger and stronger, and your heart would race faster and faster, until you finally found the courage to turn on the light.  Once the darkness was expelled and the light revealed the true source of your torment, you found that the shadow on the wall was nothing more than one of your favorite toys reflecting the light of the moon peering through the window, and the boogeyman was never there to begin with.  All that the closet was housing was the pile of clothes you shoved in it instead of putting them away when you were told to.  Am I the only one who still has moments like these in life?

The “boogeymen” in our mind can come to life for many reasons.

We can fail to take a wrong thought captive and it can birth fear.  This will cause our reactions to be wrong.  We can play with a thought so long in our mind that we begin to act out whatever it is we’ve been meditating on internally, causing a greater pain than what was originally feared.  Eventually, a thought that’s not been harnessed, will get acted on in the physical if not stopped internally.

“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  – Proverbs 23:7

We can force people to respond in negatives ways by the way we outwardly live the life we’ve created in our thought life.  We can treat an innocent person as if they’ve already hurt us and cause them to withdraw.  We already knew they would anyway – right?  Or, we can withdraw because of our own self-doubt and low self-worth, but project the blame onto the person we are withdrawing from.

I’m struggling with knowing where that fine line is between building a healthy wall to protect my heart, (Prov. 4:23) and knowing when to face my fears and take a risk.  It’s true that not everyone is trustworthy, nor do many have the purest of intentions, but not everybody is evil in motive either.  There’s a gift hidden in my uncertainty walking this tightrope, I must lean completely into God and rely on Him to give me wisdom and discernment.  If I’m leaning into Him I will find others who are doing the very same thing.

Here’s what I do know, “I don’t know if you don’t tell me” and you cannot read my mind.  So, what do you want to know?

I would love to hear from you.  Questions?  Comments?  Stories?  Let me have it!


2011, Keeping It Real!

By the way, you’re spouse, (or friend, for those who are single) does not get, hear, or comprehend, when you drop hints.  If you don’t speak out, with words, it’s not fair to expect them to read your mind.  This is yet another difference between the Hollywood fairytale and real life.  But, if two people live for each other, real life can be far better than the fairytale.

I want you to know that it is very common to need some sort of help in learning how to verbalize your thoughts.  If you feel your throat tightening and you’re unable to breathe in the moments you want to open up, please contact a trusted friend, your pastor, or a licensed therapist, to help you overcome your fear.  None of us can conquer all our fears on our own.  Decide that YOU are worth discovering truth’s freedom.  I believe you are highly valuable.  There is help to be found, if you really want it.


  1. Adam said,

    05/27/2011 at 11:50


  2. Rob said,

    05/28/2011 at 11:50

    How right on Shannan! You are an honest voice in the world of mushy, blushy, and many times b.s. relationship teachings. Keep it real!
    So many wives are deeply hurt because their husbands can’t read their minds, then they turn that thought into a monster that never was. Men don’t escape this trap either.
    Seems to be a lesson that needs to be relearned daily cause we all forget it so quickly.
    thanks for sharing.

    • 06/03/2011 at 11:50

      Thank You Rob. I appreciate your honesty also, men can be just as manipulative as women can be. All of us have room to grow in our communication skills. We must remember that each person is an individual and communication may needs a to be personally designed. The key for all of us is to be willing to open up, willing to listen, and willing to change.

  3. Pedro said,

    05/30/2011 at 11:50

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Shannan. Not many couples take time or put the effort to learn to communicate. I didn’t learn to communicate in my marriage until it was too late. Ironically, the divorce process caused me to express my thoughts and feelings with others much better than I ever did with my ex-wife. I like the advice you gave at the end to seek professional help if necessary. I pray that your readers benefit from your good counsel. God bless you Shannan.

    • 06/03/2011 at 11:50

      I’m sorry it took such a tragic event Pedro. Thank God for His mercy and grace as we learn our lessons. I think those of us who are Christians sometime fail others by not admitting we too need to seek the advice of professionals. By us getting real with ourself we free others to do the same. I use to teasa Warren because I had to take Zoloft during the first couple years of marriage. I was raised with a father who refused to take an aspirin for a headache because it showed a lack of faith. I believe this was the beginning steps for God to start teaching me how to open up and talk. I mean real talk, not just stating the Christianese verbiage we’re taught.

  4. Jana said,

    05/31/2011 at 11:50

    Awesome! I love it.. thought i’d type it out… since you can’t see in my head…. LOL Although I see a thought bubble over your’s even from WA it’s the same over mine too…. (coffee) heheeh =)

    • 06/03/2011 at 11:50

      Hahaha! Jana, I LOVE those bubbles!!! But I didn’t have to tell you that, you knew that already 🙂

  5. Jenna Brooks, CPLC said,

    05/31/2011 at 11:50

    Hello. I’m Jenna.

    I was wondering if you could help me find the research (or sources) for this comment that you made:
    “There is a vast difference in the way men and women hear and understand each other.”

    I know that it’s pretty much an unquestioned idea, but I was wondering if you know where it came from. To be honest, I think I disagree, and that many like excuses are made for relationally destructive behaviors; however, I don’t like to dismiss these things without looking into them as thoroughly as is possible.

    Thanks in advance. You’re a fine writer – I enjoyed this.

    • 06/01/2011 at 11:50

      Hi Janna! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I cannot tell you where the original thought idea came from, I believe it’s been a huge topic of conversation since the fall of man. I agree people have a great “ability” to use known struggles / differences as a means to justify a bad behavior. I don’t think that means a particular difference does not exist. Also, there are many other factors to be weighed before absolute conclusions are made as to why a person response the way they do – male or female. Someones upbringing, home life, a traumatic event, can lead to an emotional shutdown or extreme outburst. These are just a few examples.

      My husband read the book, “Every Man’s Battle” and gave it great reviews. He shared with me some of the truths found in it. I read, “Every Woman’s Battle” at the same time, and it also helped us both understand each others. I’m reading a book now called, “Fear Of Intimacy” by Robert Firestone. I don’t agree with everything in it, but it has some really good information regarding different personalities.

      I hope that somewhat answered your question. Thanks again Janna!

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