How To Talk To Your Man
By Miss T
Charles was late from work every day for two weeks. Maggie, his wife of three years, was getting suspicious. Every time, she asked about his work, he would reply “It’s fine!” or “Great!”. Maggie deemed that he was hiding something or worse, having an affair.
When Charles was late for the third week, Maggie was ballistic. Charles was bewildered by his wife’s “unrealistic” and “unreasonable” expectation. He went into a rage, giving Maggie a double dosage of guilt trip, accusing her of adding additional stress to his already hectic working life. Maggie, on the other hand, burst into tears and accused Charles of having another love interest outside.
When they came in for counseling, they were considering divorce. Maggie felt that the trust between them was broken while Charles felt that Maggie was being unreasonable. After a few counseling sessions, they managed to patch up and are working on their new-found skills in communicating. Here are some ideas that are helping Charles and Maggie communicate and understand each other better.
The Box Man
After counseling, Maggie was happy to verify that Charles was not hiding anything from her or having an affair. He was just thinking, working and talking like most men – in “boxes”. When Charles returned home, he had no desire to reopen the “work box” and drag out all the details. My advice to Charles was for him to include some details of his work into his daily conversations with his wife. The reason is because women bond with each other when they share details of their lives and activities. Therefore if Charles wanted to bond with Maggie, he would have to learn how to use her “female language” of sharing details.
Maggie has since learned how to ask Charles the appropriate questions. She avoided her normal short questions such as, “How is today?” or “How is your job?”. She carefully phrases questions like “What happen to that recent IT project in California? What are the difficulties that you are facing now?”. Maggie also learned to give Charles time to respond because whatever he has to say would take time to pass first through his logical mind.
Coping With Boxes
Men and women address stress quite differently. Men cope better with stress by creating many “boxes” to store different challenges while women cope by sharing their stress with their girlfriends. For example, Charles had completely forgotten about an argument that he had with Maggie, the moment he reached his office. He was already deep inside his “work box” and nothing existed outside of it. Maggie, on the other hand, had shared the details of their argument with her mother and a female colleague, Trish. Later that day, Charles cheerfully called Maggie and only to be taken aback by her cold shoulder. Maggie fumed further because she felt that Charles did not even consider their relationship important enough to remember the feud. Since realizing that her husband is a “box man”, Maggie has become more understanding and forgiving.
Heart To Heart Conversation
In the beginning, there were times when Maggie felt frustrated because whenever she requested for a heart-to-heart conversation, Charles would seem lost and even confused. Maggie used to begin a conversation with phrases like “Let’s talk”, “We have to discuss” or “I have a question to ask you”. These phrases were too vague and for Charles, they signified that he was in trouble. He immediately responded by either “fight” or “flight”. When this was explained to Maggie, she began to understand why on many occasions, when these phrases were used, Charles would immediately start arguing or he would just give excuse to postpone the conversation.
Men need to know the “bottom line” before he would engage in a conversation. Maggie followed my advice well. She learned to weave specific and tangible agenda into her requests and received positive responses from her husband. For example, instead of saying, “We should talk”, she said, “Darling, about your sister’s wedding, let’s talk about what gift we should get for her.”
Maggie has listed out these five important pointers to remember so that she can get the best out of her marriage.
1. Never ask Charles how he feels but what he thinks.
Maggie realizes that every time, she asks Charles how he feels, he would tell her what he thinks. It is not that Charles does not have feelings. Like most men, he does not express well through the emotional channel but the logical one. Maggie wisely does not evaluate Charles’ feelings without first getting to know what he is thinking.
2. Be patient with Charles when she needs him to give his ideas.
Maggie has seen her husband clammed up when she pushes him for an idea. Now, she knows that Charles needs time to juggle all his “boxes” of ideas so as to come out with the best answer. She gives him not only time but space to do his juggling.
3. Schedule “talk time” and make it no more than 30 minutes.
Since Charles works well with schedule, he and Maggie have agreed on a regular weekly “talk time” to be held every Friday evening for no more than 30 minutes. Time will only be extended on mutual agreement.
4. Set ground rules for “talk time”.
Charles and Maggie agreed that their “talk time” would be polite and nice. There should be no angry tone, no name calling or insulting remarks. Fighting words like “always” and “never” are to be avoided. “Talk time” is not “argument time.”
5. Write out difficult questions for Charles to think through.
Charles expresses himself better through writing and he sends emails to his wife. He appreciates Maggie for emailing him questions that she likes to discuss during the “talk time”. Maggie, on the other hand, is very satisfied with the answers that she is now getting from Charles.
You Can Talk To Your Man
Like all skills, the skills of communicating with your man would take time to develop. Be patient with yourself and your man. Watch the tone of your voice because he is continually monitoring your mood. Let him talk and listen to him with respect. Don’t make assumption on what he wants to tell you. Look at him when he talks. This is to show that you are paying attention to what he says. Trust what he expresses to be true. Avoid arguing but save your arguments for more important crisis.