I'm sharing this post by a favourite blogger of mine - Corey Allan at Simple Marriage - Part II to follow with the Do's and Don'ts. Corey's blog has been on my top 10 list for a while now and with his permission I'll be sharing his insights with you.
The day at work has been horrific. Emails never stopped. The voicemail light kept flashing. The boss needed the information yesterday. And to top it all off, you had a fight with your wife as you left this morning. You feel the tension coming from the house when you get out of your car in the driveway. The kids are in their rooms doing homework and your wife approaches you and says the words most men dread: “We need to talk.”
It seems at this moment, most men have the fight or flight response. I can berate her about the timing of things, continue to insist that I’m right and she’s wrong. Or I can shrug it off and disappear with the TV, the Internet, alcohol, or the work I conveniently brought home. What is it about talking that is so difficult? Granted, this does not apply to everyone, but most of us have some trouble with deep conversation. Especially when it comes to conversing with our spouse.
A brief history of communication
It comes as no surprise that men and women are different.
Men have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, and diagnose. We are very adept at seeing a problem that needs fixing and developing a way to fix the problem. Unfortunately, this fix is according to the man, possibly not taking into account those around him. This is due in part to our learning to think and communicate in terms of what is “right” or what is “wrong.”
To add to this, we often express our feelings in terms of what has been “done to us” rather than being independent of those around us. We mix up our needs and we ask for what we’d like using demands, guilt, or even the promise of rewards. This should come as no surprise since this is how many of us were raised by our parents.
At best, the basic ways men think and communicate hinder communication and create both misunderstanding and frustration. At worst, they can lead to anger, depression and even violence.
Women on the other hand have been exposed to conversations as a means for connection, sharing and/or support. From early on, women interact with others more often for the intimate connection rather than a hierarchical status. Women are more likely to see people as interdependent and working in concert with one another.
Women are likely to be the ones who speak up first to address problems in marriage, as they are more relationally oriented. But this speaking up may not be intended to fix the problems – it may be for closer connection. And when you keep in mind that many relational problems may not be resolved, a deeper connection through them can be a tremendous opportunity for both of you to grow.