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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to Talk to Your Husband

Use small words, and grunt a lot.

You think I'm kidding?

In general - and I am basing this on generalities - men and women communicate so differently that's it's sometimes surprising that they can relate to each other at all.

Women are masters of subtlety. A woman's world is vivified by nuance, tone, and color of language and gesture.

Men are...well, not subtle. Guys pride themselves on speaking plainly, but the truth is that they're ill-equipped to do anything else.

Subtlety requires attention to one's conversational partner, and this is where men tend to come a bit unglued. Think about it - how many men have you met that you could count as good listeners?

Dates don't count. A man on a date is a man on a mission, and listening is a means to an end.

Narrows the list, eh? Most men will patiently wait for you to finish talking, so that they can then talk.

Some women do this too - but most are actually listening. Women internalize what they hear from others, because it makes them more a part of an interconnected world.

Men don't want to be a part of no stinkin' interconnection. Men want to ride high and wide and alone. John Wayne, riding into the sunset.

For a man, how he talks defines who he is. Everything's a statement of manhood, in one way or another. Get a man to be touchy-feely, and he'll think he's turning into a girl.

So, how do you talk to a man?

Use small words and short sentences, with a clear subject.  Make sure your message is delivered quickly and unambiguously. The longer you talk, the more a man's eyes will glaze over.

Maintain eye contact. Don't harp on it verbally, but if a man's eyes start to drift away, his mind's already gone. Stay in his vision, and 'talk with your hands' if possible.

Build in required responses. Not the standard, "Don't you agree?" - that sounds like manipulation, and most men are pretty quick to detect that. Instead, ask for involvement by asking a man for his opinion. Men love to share opinions. "What do you think?" can be magic.

Always be specific. If you talk around an issue, with oblique references, don't expect a man to pick up on it. He won't.

Use flattery. The bigger the ego, the more fragile it is. Most men tend to need ego boosts regularly, which explains their sometimes absurd way to impress others (particularly female others). Salt your conversation with things like "Wow, I never thought of that!", even if your cat would have understood it clearly.

Stand close. Men feel honored when a woman stands close to them - and they will be more forthcoming in this small shared intimacy.

Stay on topic. Women can often jump between three topics in the same sentence, while men are doing well to follow a sentence to its single-focused conclusion.

Be yourself. If you don't typically use sports or military analogies in conversation, don't start. These are areas in which a guy can 'protect' his maleness, and most men find it uncomfortable when a woman starts speaking their 'language'. If you had a consuming interest in sports through the relationship (or are a veteran), it's a different story; but don't start in an effort to make communication better. It'll backfire.

It's really not hard to communicate with men. We're eager to please, and we want to talk with the women in our lives.

We love you, after all. In a raw-meat-eatin', chest-poundin' way, of course.

This post is linked to Wedded Wednesday on www.MessyMarriage.com. If you click on the link below, you can go there to find a great blog, and links to other bloggers who celebrate marriage...in all its beauty and banality.


  1. Ha! This is so funny and so true, Andrew! In fact, I was just working with my son recently who's competing for an academic scholarship at the university he's attending in the fall. My son is a computer geek, which means he has all those "male communication characteristics and tendencies" you mentioned above to the "enth degree." I'm going to ask him to read this. We could use all the help we can get on broadening and strengthening his communication skills! And this is great for both wives and husbands. Very thought-provoking and helpful!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Beth!

      I was trained in 'guy stuff' (engineering and paramilitary contractor), but somehow I turned out a bit different. People have said that my books read as if they were written by a woman, which I take as high praise indeed.

      Communication is so important. I rather wish that intergender communication would be required study in high school and college.