I was talking to a friend the other day and she was telling me about her husband and how he doesn’t really communicate with her. She says she has resigned herself to just telling him what she thinks because she says she has just grown tired of asking him to talk about difficult subjects and watching him stay mute and not say anything. It’s not a great scenario, but for the moment it works, somewhat. I believe this is a problem that many couples live with.
Understanding the Problem
As a couples specialist I like to look at what each person wants and needs in a relationship in order for me to understand what they are not getting and why it has become so difficult to communicate. The first thing I like to help couples understand is that both people want something from the other. It usually includes some mixture of the following: feeling valued, appreciated, and understood.
It doesn’t matter if you are the female, or the male or a couple of same sex. This is the core of what every person in a relationship wants to feel with their partner; valued, appreciated and understood.
Does Gender Play a Role?
I believe it does. I think as individuals we are made up of a lot of parts. Sometimes these traits can be in both sexes but generally speaking in my experience this is the breakdown.
As females most of us feel energized when we are able to talk to others about things important to us. We get ideas about solving issues and we feel heard and supported. It’s absolutely the best thing we can do for ourselves when we are having difficulty with a problem and need to find a solution. We talk to others. This is not only helpful, it’s enriching to us.
Men have wonderful skills to understand problems and issues and most of them do this inside their heads. They explode with ideas and new thoughts and problem solve faster than you can say “fix it.” This is a natural fit for most men. That’s why when most men see women crying the first thing they want to do is fix her. This is in their nature, to solve your difficulties. But ask them to mull something over, or discuss the nuances of a dilemma and you might likely find them freezing up and disengaging. That’s just easier and more comfortable.
How to Get Unstuck
So let’s say you and your partner find yourselves in this situation. You are the talker and he is the silent one, or vice versa. You have both staked out your positions and each of you is waiting for the other to do something. This is a standoff, where a lot of couples live. Someone has to make a move to become unstuck. Maybe you can agree on one thing, like you both just want to feel better. If each of you takes just one step toward helping the relationship there’s hope.
What to Do
Develop awareness that you are different than your mate. Investigate what your partner needs to feel understood. Why not just ask them? You may discover that they appreciate it when you do something particular. This is how we attune to our mate and give them what makes them feel good. Beyond anything else this is the key to a good relationship. Knowing what makes your partner happy. If both of you know this and you provide it to the other you will live a happy life. And that’s what all couples want.
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