A recent MSN article gives advice on how to get your man talking. The article takes advice from the writer of Straight Talk for Men about Marriage, Marty Friedman. Friedman says, “It’s not that guys don’t want to talk; it’s that they don’t want to talk about the stuff women want to talk about. Guys want to talk about things like sports, work and movies, while women want to talk to about feelings. Women have a need for connection, intimacy, harmony, and communion, but to expect that kind of openness and open-ended conversation from men is a bad fit. It’s doomed to failure.”
The article goes on to suggest some tips for getting your guy to open up. Some of them are worthwhile like “Work on your timing” and “Know when to give up.” Trying to talk about your relationship during the big football game just isn’t going to work and after a certain point you know that your guy just isn’t going to talk and there’s no point in trying to squeeze words out of him.
The article also suggests that women need to make an effort to talk about things men are interested in…. cars, sports, work, movies, technology etc. Trying to connect with what your man enjoys is most definitely a worthy goal. the fault of the article is that it leaves all the communicating responsibility up to the woman. We should be trying to understand what our man is interested in and there’s really no need for him to understand what we’re interested in… like the relationship. After all, as the “expert” Marty Friedman states, you can’t possibly have openness or open-ended conversation in your relationship if you happen to be dating a man. Don’t even try because you’ll end up failing. Why is it so much to expect that at some point, if there are troubles or problems men will need to have a conversation with the partner about the relationship. However, according to this article, that’s simply too much to ask. We should ask about sports before we even attempt to solve a relationship problem.
The article concludes with this line, “You want him talking, and you can achieve that-but talking about your favorite topics… well, that’s another matter.” When they reference “favorite topics” they mean relationships, feelings, and emotions. Women have an undeserved reputation for always wanting to talk about these things. Normally we want to talk about these things when we feel something is wrong. We’d like to address the problem before it gets too big and really causes trouble. Apparently, however, expecting a man to perform routine conversation maintenance on a relationship is just to much to ask. Well. I’m here to say that it’s not. As MSN’s article explains, we are expected to pay attention and give deference to men’s topics of conversation and it’s only fair that men should be expected to do the same from time to time.
I did not particularly like the tips that MSN’s article gave because they involved the woman doing all the work. So here are some of my own that I have found to work. There is one thing that women need to understand about men’s ability to talk about relationships and feelings. They are simply not hardwired to do it or rather to do it well. In today’s society women are taught how to express their feelings well and men are taught to tough it out. You’ve got genetics and life-time of conditioning working against you. Just keep that in mind when he’s not talking. To some extent it isn’t his fault and to some extent it is. If he makes an effort be happy, because he’s trying and he wants things to work.
1) Give him space.
When men are upset about something they retreat because they don’t want to argue with you about it. Women want to talk it out immediately so as to avoid a problem. But men just feel attacked when that happens. Give him some space and time to cool down and feel better. You can talk about it in a couple hours. Then he’ll be more cool-headed and more able to express how he was feeling and you still get to talk about the problem.
2) Be quiet.
Sometimes just being silent can get them talking. Ask a question and then just be quiet. He may give a pat, of the bat answer, but just wait. Often times if you just stay silent, he’ll keep talking and explain himself a little more.
3) Be calm.
Even if he’s upset and doesn’t want to talk to you, you can sit him down and explain that he doesn’t have to talk at all. Or mandate that he can’t speak at all until you are completely finished. Then sit down and calmly explain how you are feeling. Remember to use “I” sentences and to avoid superlatives. As in “I feel like I’m being taken for granted.” as opposed to “Younever do anything for me anymore.” This technique keeps him from feeling attacked even if you do feel like ripping his head off right now.
All-in-all men should be expected to do relationship maintenance just as much as women. Today’s culture seems to have taken the stance that because men aren’t good at talking they shouldn’t have to do it. Women can keep the relationship running just by talking about what men want to talk about even if it means never ever talking about the relationship. So women, don’t allow your man to get away with never talking and men… make the effort. It pays off in the end.