He never remembers when I tell him things.
Her stories are too long.
He interrupts me while I’m speaking.
She’s too detailed.
He’s distracted a lot.
She "always" wants my opinion, even when it’s a trivial decision.
He "never" needs my approval, he just goes and does it.
She expects me to recall things she told me when I was in a rush three weeks ago.
Some days marriage and dating feels like walking on clouds, and the very next, a sad country song.
Couples constantly navigate a gender-nuanced world when it comes to communicating clearly with one another. This week we'll consider a few ideas from the experts, so that our thoughts won't get lost in translation...
In our household, spring is the busiest season. The kids play two different sports and swim team continues through most of the year. Springtime provides endless opportunities to completely botch communication - practice times, dinner plans, schedule changes, spring break trips, team snacks, school volunteer opportunities, and all the other issues that arise in the final nine weeks of class.
Just the other day those deep brown eyes, belonging to that husband of mine, went round and wide as I reminded him about something we’d discussed the week prior. You know as well as I do what that moment feels like - both partners stuck in a freeze frame, trying to figure out which one of us went wrong and silently hoping it was the other.
“I was trying to do three things at the same time and if you told me, it was on my way out the door,” he replied. He was probably right. My mind cycles through what seems like a million thoughts a day, many of them needing to be either, written down, or passed along before my brain moves on to the next set of to-do’s.
Can you relate?
In their books For Women Only and For Men Only, Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn give some great tips about communicating crystal-clearly to one another. I should mention that not all of these generalizations may apply to you. We're individuals, yet their findings come from survey samples of thousands of men and women. It's good stuff!
As you also navigate a busy season with your loved ones, here are a few tips to help strengthen your marriage or dating relationships:
1. Women tend to communicate for the purpose of connection and men communicate to pass along information. This means that women need men to listen and men need women to act. Understanding the ways that men and women speak differently helps us to prevent misinterpretations about one another’s actions (like assuming a lack of care or thoughtlessness). What one partner deems as a priority, the other may not even register as a blip on the radar screen - and neither of them are wrong.
2. Conflict often gives a woman the impression that the relationship is not OK. Emotionally, we ladies can’t always separate the facts of a disagreement from our feelings of connection to our partners. Men, on the other hand, don't necessarily worry about relationship security after an argument. They often try to solve a problem right way, wishing to show others that their solution is the right one and that they're worthy of leading.
It's helpful for us to understand that disagreements are simply differences of thinking that can be navigated together, rather than attacks on our opinions or feelings. Additionally, men can reassure their partners that everything is “OK,” before the discussion even begins. Once again, the approach to conflict can be oceans apart, yet the gap can be easily bridged with open, purposeful intent.
3. Men and women operate at different “processing speeds.” Women are usually quick to pinpoint how they feel and why they’re feeling that way. Men can take up to seven hours to analyze a situation to the point where they can adequately communicate what’s going on inside. This is mainly because they tend to take all possible reactions and outcomes into consideration before sharing their feelings.
Remember, women generally want to connect and men want results. Giving our partners more time and space to consider an issue may help guys to feel more comfortable being honest. Women will also feel affirmed and understood if men simply acknowledge the issue in the present, and then promise to come back to it a little bit later.
Join us at the Facebook or Twitter page with any questions that you may have, or with any comments you’d like to share.
If you'd like to read more about communication, you can also visit Crosswalk.com for an article I recently contributed entitled, "10 Things to Never Say to Your Husband."
With you and for you,
Kind words are like honey,
Sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Photo Cred: Jamison McAndie
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.