attacked by man-flu, and other misunderstood meanings

Last week my husband had the “man-flu”! He moaned about being “sick” and I found myself feeling annoyed with him sitting up in bed watching TV, drinking cups of tea and looking for a chat whenever I passed the door. “How can that be sick?” I thought getting irritable. My idea of being sick was sleeping, unable to get up, talk or do anything much at all.

The difference in our understanding of the meaning of the word “sick,” and many other words and symbols, comes from our childhood. These misunderstandings can cause big rifts in a relationship just as my belief of the meaning of sick was threatening to cause an argument with my beloved! The answer is to create shared

We all come from different families and cultures, giving different meanings to words. So even if your partner grew up down the road, it’s worth having a conversation about what certain words mean to them. 

why does having shared meanings matter?

By sitting down and explaining to hubby how annoyed I felt by his “exploitation of sick” I discovered that at boarding school if you were sick enough to go to matron there would often be a period of quarantine so other boys were not infected. It totally made sense that my hubby had grown up learning to be careful of not spreading germs. Being sick was boring for him and he was trying to protect others. My family on the other hand had a more “get on with your job” approach. I had to admit there was merit in his approach and I now have a more relaxed attitude.

In relationships there is always an element of perpetual conflict. This shows up in the therapy room with outspoken disagreements about simple words such as “home”.
What does “home” mean to you, your partner, your family? Does it mean place of peace, place of order, or place of fun? It just depends on how your family shaped your ideas.

Samford couples therapy


advice on how to create shared meaning with your partner

It can be useful on date nights to explore some of these key concepts.

Some key words to discuss are: “husband,” “wife,” “home,” “sex,” “money,” “play,” and “parent.” Start a conversation and ask each other:

  1. What do these words or symbols mean to you?
  2. What did they mean growing up? Can you tell me a story about how this shaped your childhood?
  3. What assumptions do you have about these words?
  4. What is similar in our understanding and what is different?

Each of these words is symbolic in the broader scope of how you want to live your lives. You don’t need to have a clear idea when you start the conversation. This is an understanding that can evolve with your relationship.

What shared meaning can you create with your partner to ensure you’re both working on the same goals for your lives together?

To find out more about creating shared meaning contact Kristina Challands on 0487 480120.