Have you ever analysed how much you and your partner talk to each other? No, neither have I, until this weekend, when I spotted an article about people who divorce after long marriages. I probably noticed it because it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary on 5th September (which makes it a Pearl, in case you’re interested, and no, I did not buy Charlotte a pair of Pearl earrings.)
According to the dating site ForgetDinner, people who have been married one year spend 40 minutes of an hour-long dinner in conversation. After 20 years of marriage this drops to 21 minutes; by the time you’ve been married 50 years you will only be talking for 3 minutes during an hour-long meal.
Wooooaah there, not sure that’s been my experience! At 30 years Charlotte and I are only supposed to talk for 16 minutes per hour. Blimey, that is so way off, it’s not even remotely how it is. Normally our problem is the other way around, ie trying to get a word in edgeways. Can you imagine how it would be to sit opposite your loved one and say nothing for more than 5 minutes? To me it’s unthinkable. Maybe I should try it tonight, although I doubt it will last long.
It reminds me of one of my favourite Pink Floyd tracks, Keep Talking, (1994, The Division Bell). The lyrics finish with “All mankind needs to do is to make sure we keep talking.” I have written various Blogs about doing the opposite, ie using silence consciously to negotiate, find out what you are dealing with before you rush in to resolve conflict, and to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. However, I would have to say that when building relationships, “if in doubt, communicate” would be a pretty good approach. “Keep Talking” might have been good advice to many a politician and Trade Union leader over the course of history.
So this week’s call to action is to set up a secret video camera at the dining table (or maybe just put your Iphone in the flower vase) and record tonight’s conversation. I do hope you have less than 20 minutes of silence (and that you have a good explanation worked out for when your partner discovers the device!) Happy chatting!