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I've just received your e-mail query this morning.
Please feel free to forward your question(s).
Thanks for the text information.
I regret that it will take me some time to review this - but I'm happy to get back with you - hopefully in a short time.
I also regret that that, as another expert has previously noted, your request is underpriced. Please consider raising your price in order to get feedback.
Lastly, I may have several questions for you after I review the material.
I'm reviewing now.
1. I'm asking primarily so I get the genders/names correct. I don't need your actual names (and please don't supply them)... but if you could give me pseudonyms - that would help me make some sense about what I'm reading. Who is person 1? Who is person 2?
2. How frequently are you in the same city? For how long do you stay together? What is the plan in terms of living together upon engagement?
3. What are your phone bills like? (Humor is always good... I hope...) :)
Hi, guys! (Frank & Sally - I'm Blake.)
I've reviewed your transcript.
If I understand that you are asking me to "mediate," I'll need to know what your specific questions. For your own sake, it would probably be best if you both agree that you will abide by whatever answers are provided. (The last thing you guys need is wiggle room...)
Please tell me what your specific question(s) are, and I'll try to answer them as best I can. Please also understand that I will try to keep my answers succinct and to the point.
Thanks for your reply.
Just let me know.
I have reviewed your (lengthy) transcript from the text-mail passages, and your summary. Here's the question you wrote:
Q: I know "there is no right or wrong", but we would like to know if you can give an opinion who is right or wrong here or have this mediated in some way.
A: Given the context of the entire text-mail exchange you are both equally at fault. One need not look at who "began" the difficulties - because you both perpetuated the fault ad nauseum to the point of practically destroying the relationship.
My advice would be as follows:
- DO NOT TEXT MESSAGE. The number of miscommunications and misconceptions about communications between you kept compounding until it nearly exploded. You *both* need to agree that text messaging is not a good forum for you to communicate. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Many people assume, once they get started, that text messaging is like a verbal face-to-face conversation - and then proceed to violate all the rules of f-2-f talking. When you text someone, as your transcript implies, you can hold onto it and re-read and re-read and re-read, and overinterpet and use words against one another. Bad idea.
2. Another common assumption is that, like in a f-2-f convo, the other person is able to respond immediately. You both used the rules of f-2-f and text convo interchangeably when it suited you, and this hurt the conversation.
3. So much of human conversation is nonverbal... the same words can be said in 1000 different ways by simple changes in inflection, gesture, body language, and context. (This is why, among other reasons, it's fascinating to watch two different productions of the same show. The words are the same, but the actors and designers and director can change it so it has a completely different meaning.) The context in which "Sally" or "Frank" writes a message might be received in an entirely different context, at a different time, and without the benefit of all the other nonverbal communication tools humans use. In your particular case, it led to innumerable miscommunications and misconceptions.
4. Text messaging is addictive. Why do you think they've dubbed the Blackberry the "crack"-berry? I've seen otherwise completely sane people become complete blithering idiots - either putting their life on hold waiting for a text reply or spending HOURS crafting lengthy replies worthy of a novel <or> sending minute-by-minute "pokes" that grow annoying and pestersome. It simply isn't healthy.
5. The "texting isn't all bad" <or> "I need it for short communications" argument... You may argue that "well, this exchange was a bad one... they're not all like this." Perhaps... but your conversation began with a simple exchange about a package... and escalated into WWIII. Please recognize that even using the texting to send a simple "I watered the garden" or "Call me" or "Have a good day" could be toxic for you guys right now.
6. Texting is pulling you out of your lives and into your heads. You need to stop living in your heads and start living in your hearts and in your actions.
My second piece of advice would be to take a mutually agreed upon amount of time (say 2-3 days) to just "cool off" for awhile. Select a date and time when you both will be available to talk VOICE-TO-VOICE on the phone. Make sure that date/time is written down and secured as "sacred" so you can both be available to talk. Decide, in advance, who will call whom. Then, make certain you're both available for 30-40 minutes to have a phone call.
During that time, gain your bearings, and recognize what is good about the relationship (not what is bad). Take a moment to write down a "gratitude list." All you need to do is write down A MINIMUM of 10 things you're grateful for about your partner or your relationship. You don't need to (nor do I necessarily recommend that you) share this gratitude list with one another.
When the phonecall happens - apologize to one another, acknowledge that you both are at fault (yes - both of you, for the initial incident and all of the aftermath), and put it behind you. It can be as simple as, "I regret that this whole thing happened. I admit my part (no details here) and my responsibility. I'd like to move forward." (Don't rehash it for hours and hours on the phone. If you need to discuss the particular incident, agree that you will only do so IN PERSON.)
Allow the phone conversation to proceed as naturally as possible. Enjoy one another's company on the phone. Limit it to 30-45 minutes, max... and see if you need to make plans for another phone call or a time to see one another.
During your 2-3 day vacation, have NO CONTACT. After you've had your phone conversation, please DO NOT RESUMING TEXT MASSAGING. For many, it is a means of convenience - but for you both right now - it is a loaded gun. "Put the gun down, and step away from the relationship." That way you can start fresh, with fresh communication, and a mutual acknowledgment that you WANT to communicate and that you WILL, with this matter behind you.
What are your thoughts?
LOL. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the first person to suggest you "step away from the text messages..." it's a loaded gun for any couple!
The best advice I could give is what you guys have already started - coupled therapy. Having someone there to mediate - and to help you both stop the tendency to "read minds" will go a great way toward healing some of your communication. Remember that we're not looking for "good" communication or "correct" communication - we're looking for "healthy" communication. Having a third party present will also teach you strategies to keep in mind for when that third party ISN'T around... simple things like, pausing and actually taking a breath before launching into discussion (or even a reply), active listening, a using humor constructively to defuse potentially touchy situations (for example).
The fact that you both WANT to communicate and WANT to find a solution is more than half the battle.
I hope you'll take a couple of days to relax, "to breathe," and to create your gratitude lists will bring you closer to more healthy pro-couples communication.
Of course, the best way to make the communication better is to be in the same room... and the best way to do that is to live in the same city (or at least the same state... let alone country).
Thanks. I hope you guys are well.