“WE NEED TO TALK.”
That’s right. I said it, someone needed to say it. The four dreaded words that most men, if they were being totally honest, would admit are the last words they want to hear after a long day of doing whatever it is they did. Women, I know you don’t look like this when you say “We need to talk”, but through the eyes of a man, it’s likely this is how you look to him, despite your good intentions.
Why is it that these four words can cause so much dread, so much consternation, and even unwittingly, a call to battle?
Women like to talk to the men they love. They like to communicate with them, connect with them. A lot of the time this inevitably involves the spoken word.
Most women like to analyze, dissect, ruminate on, munch on…words.
They like to work it out, resolve it, settle it, come up with mutually agreed upon terms and they want to do it NOW.
When they get like this, they may find their man prefers the solitary company found only in a cave.
Gender differences. It can be a tricky subject. We want to tread carefully lest we be accused of being stereotypical or sexist. Yet research clearly shows us that certain realities exist and differences between men and women are as old as the ages, especially when it comes to communication. In gay and lesbian relationships, there is often a talker and a non-talker.
When I talk to men about their disdain for these four words, they admit that hearing these words invokes feelings of shame. “What did I do now?” “What did I not provide?” “Where did I screw up?” “How long is this going to take?”
When women say, “We need to talk”, what is most likely being said is, “I want to connect with you.” But that’s not how it’s received. When a woman says, “We need to talk”, most men would love to scream, “WHAT NOW?”
Men get dragged into my office on a regular basis by their well-meaning wives or lovers. These women want to talk and they want to be heard. Is that so much to ask?
Well, yeah, sometimes it is. And sometimes it’s not even about the talking, it’s about the TONE. Oh the tone is so important.
Steven Stosny, a marital expert and researcher recently collaborated on a book with another relationship expert, Pat Love, a woman. It’s called, “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It”. Brilliant! The authors suggest that marriage counseling, relationship books and the popular media are more supportive of a woman’s style of communication than that of a man’s. The book provides some kick ass research, as well as other ways of communicating with one another that men can resonate with for a change.
When I work with couples, I tell them that the work they are embarking on isn’t going to involve all those thousands of tedious words. The relief on the faces of men is palpable.
Time to get creative. Work on the timing (timing is as key as the tone), be gentle, open and curious. We can all learn better ways of communicating that don’t involve a dissertation.
And women, don’t despair. The next time you really want to connect with your man, here are four words that are sure to never fail...“Want to have sex?”
*Photo courtesy of www.bigstockphoto.com