Monday, January 2, 2012

How Google Docs Saved My Marriage, Or Mind Meld With Me

Actually, that's a bit of an exaggeration because my marriage wasn't in serious trouble before, but Google Docs has certainly greased the wheels of communication.

Hhhhmmm... Now I understand why you become so upset when I leave my socks on the floor. The logical thing to do would be to pick them up and put them in the hamper on laundry day.

See, Malamute and I don't always communicate the best about feelings. A typical "conversation" about feelings will often go like this:

PR: I feel hurt by what you just said.
AM: But that's not how I meant it to come out!
PR: I didn't say that's how you meant it to come out, I'm just saying that I perceived it as hurtful.
AM: But I didn't mean for it to hurt you. I'm feeling a lot of negativity from you, can't we talk about something else?
PR: I know I'm not supposed to feel hurt, but I do. And I don't want to talk about something else, I want to beat this issue to pieces until you submit to my way of thinking! (Well, I don't say that last part out loud, but I'm thinking it at this point...)
AM: Well I don't understand what you're feeling!
PR: Fine. You can be right and I'll be wrong then.
AM: I don't want you to just say you're wrong to please me! But I don't understand why you're feeling the way you're feeling!

And on and on... (Without much resolution.)

I never really learned how to control my emotions and deal with them in a healthy way. In my teen years I tried stuffing them down, but that only made my emotional outbursts further between and more severe. I wished I could just stop feeling. After we got married, I told this to Malamute and he mentioned the Vulcans from Star Trek. Boy, that sounded great. Cut emotion out of your existence entirely and just go on logic. But that's not exactly how it works, even for the Vulcans.

I found out that in the Star Trek mythology, the Vulcans were once a society ruled by emotion so much that it almost became their destruction. They decided to become a people of logic to save themselves. But they didn't just cut off their emotions like amputating a limb. They used meditative techniques to deal with their strong and erratic emotions, which allowed them to be able to approach life with logic. Well, that sounded like a better idea, but this isn't Vulcan, so how do I "purge" and control my emotions in a healthy way, especially since talking with Malamute often didn't work well?

Enter CBT. One of the great pieces of advice I found was to write about how you're feeling and the circumstances when you feel something negative. But I've taken it a step further and used Google Docs. As I said yesterday, I've started writing about what I'm feeling when I feel negatively, but I save into a document that I share with Malamute and that he can comment on. Lo and behold, we've started communicating effectively! I write down what I'm upset about (which allows me to get it out there in an uninterrupted stream; I've always expressed myself better in writing), Malamute goes and reads it, adds his thoughts by commenting, and then I can comment back if I want. For whatever reasons, (maybe we're just very geeky...), it's been working great. I understand where he's coming from, he understands where I'm coming from, we get the whole thing out in Google Docs and not on our daily hikes when we just want to enjoy being together. Most of the time, neither of us feel a need to bring up something from Google Docs. We fight better when we do it in writing. It's like having a virtual Vulcan mind meld. And for us, it has helped a lot.


  1. I know that this post is not about hiking, but WOW! You hike everyday?!

  2. Yep! Everyday. Rain, snow, sleet or hail. With a good snowsuit, you can take a baby almost anywhere. Today we did about ten miles. It's a good time for us to be together as a family and it keeps the dogs from tearing house apart. We sometimes can't do the most exotic hikes or travel long distances, but we make it a priority to do what we can every day.