It would seem easy, right? Talking to your wife should be a piece of cake. How you go about communicating with your wife should be no different than how you have always spoken to her, you figure.
I mean really, knowing what to say and when to say something to your lovely companion for life should not be that hard. After all, she is your wife for life and talking to your better half should be easy as pie.
In fact you may be even wondering, “why the heck am I even reading this article about communications with my wife”? After all, you did sweep her off her feet and were able to utter the magical words to cause to to fall in love with you and agree to marry you Heck, your the man, right? You sweep her off her feet every time you walk through the door of your house. So what’s the big deal about talking to your wife.
You said all the right things to your wife to wiggle out of trouble lots of times, right? Heck, most of the time, you probably think of yourself as a communication guru and as far as you know, when it comes to talking to the opposite sex, you get top honors in the communications department.
Hold it now. Not so fast. Things are not always as they appear on the surface. Indeed, one of the things I teach my clients is you need to peel back the layers to really have some honest and open communications.
I have some news, in case you have not experienced this yet. Just when you think you have it all figured out and that you possess an innate ability to manage just about all conversations with your wife, day in and day out, just know that it can all melt away in an instant. Such is the tenuousness of speaking the language your wife really wants to hear.
Trust me, it is more of an acquired skill….almost an art form….this business of verbally connecting with your wife. You can tell yourself that you are some kind of “Romeo” or you are capable of talking in tongues when it comes to conversing with your woman. But I think us guys are largely on a life long quest to really understand the meaning of what women are saying….what they need to hear…and what they want to talk about.
Welcome to the sometimes upside down world of how guys should think about when it comes to communications with their wives. If you are of the mind that talking to your wife is a straightforward thing and you don’t need any advice on the matter, then I submit to you that you are living, just as I have at times, in somewhat deluded state.
The truth of the matter is that the woman you live with….the one that you go to sleep with every night…the one you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner with…yep that’s the one…your wife….it turns out that her view of your communications skills is not always aligned with your own. And that there are a lot of things you are missing…not understanding.
So what is the disconnect? What is it that your wife is really saying and thinking when she talks to you? It is not always a straightforward or logical thing to process. How does she want to be talked to? What is really in her mind about the way you converse with her? What does she like? What does she really hate when it comes to the things you might say or not say.
I think us guys have to learn where the sweet spot is when it comes to strengthening our ability to really connect and talk with our wives. Ironically, a big part of how one can best communicate with our wives is by doing less talking.
Yep, I am telling you, you are skating on thin ice if you think you have it all figured out. I have been consulting to women for many a year and I am telling you, I don’t have a complete understanding how wives, girlfriends, ex wives….all of the women of the world for that matter, really think and process through things. Though since I have dedicated myself to the quest of being a better husband and a better coach to those guys seeking to improve their marriage, I have learned a thing or two.
Part of the reason we falter at times when we are talking to our bride is that everybody’s unique in how they wish to communicate and what they prefer. But the larger reason has to do with differences in the sexes and how it is mighty difficult for a guy to crawl up inside his wife’s brain and understand exactly where she is coming from. We tend to assume that a woman thinks and processes things in the same way we do. And yes, they largely do. But there are some distinct differences which you need to learn about. There are certain preferences your wife probably has which you need to understand.
And the same hold’s true for women who seek to understand better how their husband thinks. So you see, it happens both ways. A lot of wives out there are as troubled by what goes on inside the mind of their spouse as husband are about the mechanizations of their wife’s mind.
You see, what husbands sometimes do is try and put themselves into their wive’s mind. It is a worthy endeavor because wouldn’t it be nice if we could climb in there and understand what is going on and learn to identify with your spouse’s feelings and motivations.
It is natural to endeavor to do this. We do it all the time, almost without fail. The problem though is that we seldom fit very well into our spouse’s mind. You would need a translator to sort through the string of thoughts. It would be like we have climbed into some alien’s body and are trying to assimilate.
Ok, ok…it is not quite that bad. But you know what I mean!
What Women Want (That’s Right – We are Talking About Your Wife!)
There was movie a while back that stared Mel Gibson in which he was struck by a bolt of lightening which helped him identify more with a woman….to see the world through the eyes of women.
Now, I am not advocating you climb up some high tower in the hope you will be struck by lightening, but in this movie (“What Women Want”), Mel Gibson as a result of this bolt from the heavens, becomes incredible empathetic and capable of actually hearing the thoughts of the women he encountered.
Wouldn’t you like to have a gift like that? Perhaps, perhaps not. After all, in the movie, the character with this gift (or affliction) went a bit crazy trying to process everything that the women around him were talking about. He was inundated with frazzled thoughts upon thoughts, conversation points that kind of went no where and quick 180 degree turnabouts.
He experienced, through his thought connection with these women all forms of joy, sadness, fickleness, uncertainty and anxiety. Sounds like what we all have rolling around in our heads…men and women. But just maybe more of it with women.
Warning to my readers: Remember, I am a guy. And if your are a member of the female persuasion and are a bit offended or put off by some of my conclusions and musings….I apologize in advance!
Ok, let’s get back to where we left off…
But after awhile, the character in the movie learned to control his gift and actually became profoundly effective at parsing through the thoughts and connecting the dots. He became a great listener and the women around him noticed and appreciated his unusual ability of being sensitive and connected to what they were saying and thinking.
So lesson 1 of how to talk with your wife more effectively is be a great listener. That is the closest you will ever get to understanding what is going on . The last thing you want is a relationship with your wife is one in which she keeps the communication tap closed because you are not doing very good job of listening. This means you need to stop moving your mouth and lips and let your wife do the talking. Urge your wife to take the lead in talking to you if you need to. Ask open ended questions so she can fill in the gap.
Ok, are your ready for my Marriage Helper lesson 2 on the topic of how to better talk to your wife about everything?
Drum roll…… You need listen in a way you have not done in the past. But this time, be an active listener. It is called “attending”. It is powerfully simply, yet effective. I bet you have never really learned to properly attend to what your wife is saying in a dynamic way. When you do this, you open up all kinds of fulfilling and revealing talking points about your marriage and life together. You open the door to your wive’s true feelings, particularly the ones she is afraid to talk to you about.
So, how does one become an active listener? Well, there are certain things you can do to enhance how your wife perceives your listening skills and acceptance skills. That means, you cannot judge her or be negative in response. There cannot be adverse consequences if your wife really opens up. Rather, you want to reward her for what she is saying and encourage her to share again in the future.
Start off be leaning in and making eye contact. This shows that you are genuinely connected to what you wife is talking about. Nod your head to show that you understand. Ask clarifying questions to demonstrate you are engaged and are closely following what she is talking about.
Often, you wife is looking for someone they love and trust to simply listen to them. If what your bride or wife of years is talking about sounds like a problem or issue that needs solving, don’t jump to that place where you are offering solutions. Fight that urge. It is ingrained in most men. You know….to protect and be problem solvers.
In many cases, your wife knows what she should do or wants to do and is not looking for your help to solve the problem, at least not at that moment. Rather, in that moment, what she desires is an opportunity to unload some of the emotional baggage and anxiety that has been building.
Now, I want to warn you if you have not already experienced this before. When your wife is talking about her issues, every fiber of you will want to rush into solution mode. You will think that you will be helping your lovely wife if she would simply follow your suggestions and advice.
But more often than not, that is not what she needs in that moment. Instead of taking her through your decision and solution logic for her particular problem, just ask your wife what she thinks might be the “way forward”. This approach will underscore in her mind that you are truly listening and will give her a chance to summarize her feelings which have been up to that point, mostly internalized.
Lesson 3 – Learn talk to your wife like a friend. Perhaps you do this already and it is very much the way the two of you interact. If so, than kudos to you.
As you know, you are more than merely a husband. You are many things to your wife.
Don’t you just hate to be confined by these terms we use to describe what we are in a marriage…you know…like “husband” and “wife”. That is just one role we spend time acting out.
In many cases, couples assume certain stereotypes of what they think they should be within the marriage union. Let’s talk a bit about all the things you can become in the eyes of your spouse .
You are a lover and which offers both of you a unique way to communicate in the most intimate manner. You play a role of being one of the breadwinners. Chances are that your wife also contributes meaningfully to the finances. But your role in the finances helps make the marriage financially stable
You may very well be the father to your wive’s children. This is a hugely important role you play in the marriage.
You are also a protector. When we get right down to it, your wife needs to feel safe. And to do that, you should be doing all the things that makes her feel more safe.
And last but not least, you are your wive’s best friend and being that is a great way to expand your opportunity to be able to talk your wife about everything.
Talking about all things under the sun from sports, leisure activities, movies, books, television shows, politics, and many other topics helps with forging not only a stronger connection and bond, but it allows your wife multiple paths to open herself up to you and feel closer to you.
In the final analysis, your wife wants and needs to be able to talk to your about many things. In order for this to happen, a communication bridge needs to be constructed such that she feels safe and comfortable sharing her fears, worries, anxieties without feeling judged or belittled. You wife should never be made to feel like she is weak when she opens herself up to you. On the contrary, that takes courage and trust.
If you reach this juncture in your marriage where such a bridge of communications exists, then the payback in trust and affection can be enormous. I once had a woman client whose husband was so effective in lending his ear and reading her wife so well that he instinctively knew when she really needed to talk uninterrupted that when the wife was finished sharing, she would feel appreciated and fulfilled. That in turn caused her to feel even more attracted to her husband. It actually sexually turned her on. She reported that she and her husband often enjoyed some of their most lively and enjoyable lovemaking encounters after she was able to pour out her thoughts and feelings.
And for clarification purposes, let me underscore that your wife not only desires to talk to you about the concerns she may be harboring about things, but she also needs to be able share with her husband her sense of well being…her accomplishments….the exciting moments in her life….and her curiosities and interests.
Don’t you just love the opportunity to your wife.