I need to make a confession. I have a very bad habit and it’s negatively affecting the way my husband and I communicate while RVing. My habit? It’s three little words: “I don’t care.”
Proof the “I don’t care” problem exists
Here’s how I know I have a problem communicating with my husband. Over the course of the last two travel days, the following conversations have occurred between us:
Husband: “Shall we take our normal route home or go a different way?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Husband: “Want to stop for lunch at the truck stop up ahead?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Husband: “Should we take a break and stretch our legs a bit?”
You probably already know how I responded. Seeing our conversations in print, I realize my gross overuse of the three little words, “I don’t care.”
Obviously, these three words have become my automatic go-to response. I mean them in a positive way. At least I think I do. In my mind, I’m deferring to what my husband might want. For example, he asks, “When should we stop for the night?”
I respond, “I don’t care.” What I intend to communicate is, “Whatever you want is fine with me. I am okay to keep traveling, but if you feel tired, we can stop.”
My dear husband and travel partner doesn’t always interpret my “I don’t care” response the way I mean my words. Instead, what he hears me saying is, “I’m preoccupied right now. I don’t really care about this (or you) at all.” Ouch!
The thing I fail to think about is that my husband is maneuvering our huge home-on-wheels behind our large dually truck. I tend to forget the lead time it takes to safely slow down, maneuver wide corner turns through traffic, and locate a space large enough to accommodate our 40-foot rig. Often, it takes two fully attentive RVers to scope out the situation. My flippant “I don’t care” isn’t helpful. At all.
Communication is key
I’m glad we talked about this miscommunication because I really do care. Travel routes and lunch choices and all the rest are important to me. Most of all, he’s important to me!
Breaking the habit
I’m really blessed to have a travel (and life) partner who values my preferences. So now when my husband asks me a question, I try to pause before tossing a thoughtless “I don’t care” response back at him.
If I need time to consider, I’ll say, “Let me think about that for a second.” If I honestly don’t have a preference on the matter, I’ll turn the question back to him and ask, “What do you think is best?” At least he knows that I also value his choices. And our relationship stays on track.
Together we’ve determined that if neither of us has a strong preference, we’ll flip a coin and let it decide inconsequential matters for us.
Have you ever fallen into an unintended communication habit? What strategies helped you break the habit?