When I observe men in groups I find their conversations odd. I’ve heard movie conversations recited to each other. Apparently there is bonding over if you know what movie it is and can finish the dialogue. I remember thinking to myself, “they think these are real conversations.” If the average man has a low need for conversation and women have a high need, where is the compromise that meets her needs without overdosing the husband?
Conversation is the road to getting emotional needs fulfilled. In the book, “happy couples” engaged in the habit of 15 hours a week of undivided intimate conversation. That is over two hours a day on average, or maybe some people save up their hours for the weekends. Intimate conversation for women is talking about personal issues, what you are thinking, feeling, doing. The purpose is to know each other deeper and explore more of who you are. In the beginning of the dating process, there was a lot of talking. After marriage, what is there left to say when the husband already knows you enough to commit a lifetime? Plenty!
Frequency of conversation leads to everyday problem-solving and conflict resolution. For women, it provides a sense of solidarity and connection. If husbands aren’t talking enough to their wives, there is a need-gap that a male “friend” at work can fulfill.
Danger: The male friend at work who has nice long chats with the wife over lunch. This “friendship” is safe as long as it isn’t “sexual.” The problem is that the wife is emotionally bonded to a man who is not her husband. This bond can often turn into “falling in love” because the friend really “understands” her. This connection transitions into a sexual relationship. By then, the husband has lost his wife’s heart and fidelity.
Action: Since spouses have tremendous influence on each other, there are two great questions to get some feedback. (1) “What did I do to make you feel good today?” (2) “What did I do to make you feel bad?” The answers will open up a longer conversation about what is working and what could use some tweaks. The goal is to know each other more deeply, to meet each other’s needs, and to love each other effectively. Conversation Tips: ask about your partner’s favorite topics and balance the conversation (i.e. don’t interrupt and let your spouse finish).
Conversation Killers: Wives may complain or nag about that her husband doesn’t talk to her. What we need to look at is how OUR actions kill a man’s desire to start/continue a conversation. The book identifies four killers of conversation:
- Making demands – there is no right of refusal given.
- Being Disrespectful –conflict is a part of partnership, HOW you disagree is a choice. If your husband thinks what you are doing or saying is disrespectful, it is.
- Expressing Anger – angry outbursts are destructive and damage feelings of protection and care.
- Dwelling on Mistakes (past or present) – drives the other away emotionally and/or physically.
I love a good conversation, I could talk for hours. I know that my husband doesn’t share the same depth of need for long talks. Timing is key. I’ve learned to make a request for his undivided attention. Instead of demanding that he be ready to talk when I’m ready. I’ll ask, “I have an interesting story about my day, is now a good time to tell you?” He will say yes or “not now, I need 20 minutes.” If I force him to listen when he is hungry, not in the mood, playing with the dog, or distracted, I’m setting myself up to get my feelings hurt. When I make a request for a conversation, I give him the freedom to accept or postpone for when he is ready to be a good listener. When he is prepared, this is when we talk about the little things and the BIG things to get my need for conversation met.
Reflect & Share: Out of the four conversation killers, which one is the hardest for you?
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