People for Less Unrest in Marriage (PLUM) – an observant, but largely silent marital think tank for which I, on occasion, find myself a unwitting spokesperson – has recently released its findings concerning common digitized communication breakdowns between partners during family gatherings.
Since PLUM has an interest in making sure all of its members are on the same page, it will make preliminary definitions before launching into to the summary findings.
PLUM defines the word FAMILY thusly:
“Family,” especially when in quotation marks, is usually defined as a group or groups of people that share blood, or genes or names in common although the definition may not be limited to those general attributes. Family may also include friends, acquaintances and pets depending on whether hotels are willing to make such accommodations.
PLUM defines GATHERINGS in this manner:
A gathering is an assembly or meeting, usually of a social or festive nature that is held for a specific purpose and could encompass several other separate or connected events. Furthermore, any separate “EVENTS” that may fall under a the umbrella of GATHERINGS are generally undertaken collaboratively.
But not always. This is why we say “plan accordingly.” However, that term can be misconstrued. What we actually mean is “don't hinge all your warm-and-fuzzy hopes on some Hollywood interpretation of togetherness.”
PLUM advises: Sometimes, “family events” are undertaken in a kind of parallel manner (in much the same way toddlers play side-by-side) with various members going separate ways for a while and then meeting up at a later time.
This is one of the reasons why cell phones were invented.
Which leads us to finding number one:
If your significant other isn't picking up their phone when you call, do not immediately assume the callee is willfully ignoring the caller's needs. Although seemingly unlikely in this day and age, it is altogether possible that the callee is otherwise occupied, not obsessively checking his or her smartphone, or out of range.
These are just some of the many reasons people hate cell phones.
Which leads us to finding number two:
If your significant other isn't returning your phone call, don't redial their number every 30 seconds until they pick up unless there is a specific emergency wherein leaving a message is not preferred.
In case of emergency, of course, the caller should dial 9-1-1.
Since this in obviously NOT an emergency, please note finding number three:
ONE voicemail message should be sufficient. A second voicemail message can be acceptable if new or explanatory information is provided. Once you get to three (or god-forbid four) messages within a brief amount of time, the “compulsive” factor may be in play, potentially downgrading the value of any and all messages left, as well as the sanity of the messenger.
Finding number four:
Try not to sound angry.
We mean it. Nothing productive will result from your significant other listening to four angry messages once they return to cell-tower zone and check their voicemail.
Remember, patience is a virtue.
Under no circumstances should you ever get to this point in the flight and say the following string of sentences:
“Well, it's not my fault I'm mad. How was I to know you weren't getting my calls? It's not as if you ever answer your phone when I call it.”
However, we at PLUM realize there are times when Crazy gets the best of us. So we'd like to sum up with finding number six; a simple, face-saving technique that is meant to bring honest communication breakdowns to a safe and smooth landing.
The correct response is much more direct and to the point: “I'm sorry, I overreacted.”