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Memory issue might be serious

Hey, Carolyn: My wife and I are having a problem with our communication: We disagree about what was said, or agreed to, from earlier conversations. There are definitely times when I am so convinced my wife has gotten her facts wrong, we end up getting into arguments (read: name-calling).

I am convinced she doesn’t remember what she says, and would really like to record our conversations to prove to her that I am right. I have a feeling that will only make her madder. Any suggestions for how we can handle this (her) mis-communication? – San Mateo, CA

You’re convinced she “doesn’t remember what she says.” That would make the miscommunication involuntary, right? And therefore unwitting?

Meaning, each of your memory banks is telling you the other person is wrong?

OK. So: With no proof available and no conscious choices being made, who’s to say you aren’t the one messing up?

So instead of trying to prove her wrong, banish right and wrong altogether. Assigning blame just stirs up emotion, and emotion inhibits progress by making people defensive.

There could be a problem in something as small as phrasing, as significant as your expectations of each other, and as serious as each other’s neurological health. Any of these problems can occur between two people who mean well and love each other and never fought much until now.

Replace your gotcha! approach with a concerned-spouse approach.

Suggest there may be a gap in perception in the marriage, or even real mental confusion or memory loss – in either of you. Whether the problem’s in the marriage or somebody’s brain, neither of you can afford to let the problem lie undiscovered.

Then suggest – goofy as it sounds – that you both take and compare notes of conversations, until the source of the problem comes out. Back down, reach out, solve it together (and soon).