Generally, men tend to be thinkers. We have to remember that they may not be as verbal as we are in order to have better discussions with them. A lot of wives I know wonder how they can get their husbands to open up. Here are a few things to keep in mind when engaging your husband in conversation:
Pick Your Timing Wisely
“What are you thinking?” This is the ultimate woman question. We can’t help it. We see our man staring off into space and we want to dive into his brain. The thing to remember is we have to pick good timing to get our husband to express his thoughts.
Most men don’t want to lay in bed cuddling pillows and spilling their guts. They also don’t like to get personal in public. And then there’s the annoying cliché of wives standing in front of the TV during the big game demanding to be heard while their husband tries to look around them and see which team scored. While these images might inspire some giggles, the truth is we have to make sure it’s a good time for both of us to talk.
Driving together is a good time to talk and explore ideas.
Men (in general) don’t like verbal expression as much as women, so bugging him while he’s working in his shop is also a bad idea. Instead, catch him when you’re just hanging out. My husband and I talk a lot when we’re driving together. It’s a good span of time where we’re able to offer each other undivided attention, and there’s something about being on the road that gets people thinking and exploring ideas together.
Avoid Questions That Lead to One-Syllable Answers
It also helps to ask open-ended questions. The Gottman Institute, an expert marriage and relationship think-tank, suggests starting questions with phrases like “How did you…” “What’s it like…” “Why did that…” and so on. Open-ended questions allow the speaker to share more about their thought process, emotions, memories, or experiences, and they give the asker more insight and information to base their next comment or question on.
Be Direct, Not Passive-Aggressive
Men don’t like word games. At least not in relationships. Scrabble and Words with Friends is all well and good but playing the “You should know why I’m mad” game doesn’t fly with men. It just turns them off and makes them avoid talking further.
Being direct with my intentions helps my husband to offer me the same courtesy.
Being direct with my intentions helps my husband to offer me the same courtesy. I tell him what’s on my mind and ask what he thinks about it. It’s good to “check in” with each other, and it’s easier for men to do that when they know they won’t be berated or expected to try and develop mind-reading powers.
Men don’t like long drawn out conversations where women just talk and talk and repeat themselves. They just want to get to the point and move on. Sure, they should meet us in the middle, but we have to be willing to cater the conversation to his needs as much as we expect him to cater to ours.
Slow Down and Listen
Many women speak so fast and at such high frequencies that men often can’t get a word in. They can barely think up a response to our first statement while we’re pouring on 5 or 10 more sentences. This is where the difference in the male and female brains really comes in.
It doesn’t matter how sensitive you think your man is, or how much of a tomboy you might be; women are programmed to be more verbal. This shouldn’t be news to anyone. Evidence of it is everywhere. It has also been studied and confirmed through numerous experiments, which were combined in one 2015 neuroscience document which concluded, “Women have better verbal memory, while men have an advantage in visual-spatial memory.”
If we want men to listen to us and communicate, we have to slow down and listen as well.
Despite modern pushes to flip gender roles, these facts matter – especially in relationships. Men require more time to mull over thoughts. If we want them to listen to us and communicate, we have to slow down and listen as well. A serious, and sad example, is the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp trial. Their former marriage therapist revealed how Depp was unable to de-escalate Heard’s outbursts because she would keep yelling and talking so fast that he couldn’t reason with her. This is a perfect example of spousal communication gone horribly wrong.
There is never any excuse for spousal abuse from men or women, but prevention begins with proper communication that accommodates both husbands and wives so they can resolve emotional conflict.
Men may roll their eyes at the idea of having “deeper, more intimate conversations,” but it’s a necessary aspect of marriage. Just as women who wish to talk about everything have to be patient with their husbands and understand that sometimes silence truly is “golden.” Finding that balance is a constant effort, but by timing talks at the right moments, being direct and leaving behind passive-aggressive digs, as well as slowing down to really listen and give your man time to think, you’ll find it’s easier to hear more about his perspective. And that will bring you both much closer together.
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