Talking the same talk as your partner – how to translate the ‘true’ meaning of your spouse’s language
We’ve all heard the expression ‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus’, and never does it ring more true than when we are struggling to talk, negotiate, resolve or quarrel a point with our other half.
If you’re a woman who is constantly thinking ‘why doesn’t he just get it?’ or a man who is tearing his hair out whilst screaming internally ‘what does she want from me?’, read on for some expert advice on how to understand the subtext of relationship talk:
Female: ‘Why doesn’t he understand what I need?’
Male: ‘Why can’t I do anything right?’
According to relationship expert Dr Pat Love, author and for former president of the International Association for Marriage and Family Counselling, when a female gets upset because her partner doesn’t understand what she needs, a male takes it personally.
Women tend to be motivated by closeness and connection, so if a hubby tells his wife he is having a terrible day, more often than not she will stop what she is doing to ask if he is OK. A man on the other hand, can often take complaint – even those not involving him – as an indication that he has failed to deliver in some way, measuring his worth by his ability or inability to keep his other half happy.
Solution: Pat recommends that women try to go beyond complaint and instead should be more obvious about what they really want and need. For example, try saying ‘I would like it if you…’, ‘would you help me with…’. Spell out exactly what it is you need and give your partner a clear picture of how to improve so he is able to judge when he is succeeding.
Female: ‘Why does he never listen to what I’m saying?’
Male: ‘Why doesn’t she see I’m trying to fix the problem?’
John Gray, author of the best-selling ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’ has said that there is a huge difference in the way the male brain and the female brain process stress. Apparently, a female produces a reaction in the emotional centre of her brain, whilst a male produces a reaction to stress in the fight or flight centre of his brain.
This means that for a woman, talking will produce the feel-good hormone serotonin to relax the brain – so her natural reaction is to talk her way through how she feels in order to make herself feel better.
A man on the other hand will automatically set his goal to fixing the problem at hand. Unfortunately, this often means he will be so intent on fixing the problem that it blocks his ability to really hear his partners view point.
Solution: In this situation the best thing for a female to do is simply to spell out that the solution itself is simply to listen – instantly allowing the male to relax as he now knows he isn’t required to find his own answer to the problem.
Female: ‘Why hasn’t he apologised?’
Male: ‘Why is she trying to humiliate me?’
Deborah Tannen PhD, professor of linguistics and author of ‘You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation’ explains how men tend to focus on hierarchy, which conflicts with a females natural focus on connection.
A woman may feel as though her partner can correct a minor mistake with a sincere apology, whilst a male will view this as a request to humiliate himself.
Solution: Women shouldn’t play games surrounding apologies. Shouting ‘Don’t even bother apologising’ and slamming the bathroom door, but secretly expecting your partner to then come knocking with an ‘I’m sorry’ is not the answer. If you want an apology but haven’t got one then explain why you feel you deserve one and what it would mean to you.
Relationships are a great source of happiness and joy, but sometimes we can drift from our partners and begin to feel as though we are operating on an entirely different wave length. If you are experiencing difficulties in your relationship, you may benefit from help and advice from an experienced relationship coach.
To find out more about how relationship coaching could help you, please visit our full fact-sheet for further information.
For the full article and additional expert tips visit All About You.