Friday, May 27, 2011

"How Was Your Day, Dear?" Men Who Don't Talk Are Killing Their Relationship or Marriage

Curiosity killed the cat, and a woman’s curiosity is about to get the best of her, and maybe of him, too. Confident achievers are more inclined to listen than to speak, unless they are teaching, and the more social nature of women make them want men to talk about themselves more than most are comfortable doing. Men also tend to try to separate their work time from their family time and are not driven to explore and milk negative emotions the way women are, so “talking about his bad day,” isn’t something most men are likely to do unless they are wussy complainers looking for attention. There are ways of handling this mess if you use your head…

Today’s edition is on something that has been a recurring theme in readers’ letters, a man who doesn’t talk enough about himself to satisfy a woman’s curiosity. Some men keep secrets because they are ashamed of themselves and their past, but others simply aren’t comfortable blowing their own horn.

Achievers tend to let their actions speak for them. I’ve had a lot of letters from women and men over this problem since it was last breeched in my newsletter (see the archived article at http://forum.makingherhappy.com/showthread.php/635-What-Women-Say-They-Want-in-Their-Relationships-and-Marriage-Sharing-the-Details-of-the-Day?highlight=sharing+drama); from women who think their man is hiding something and from men who are annoyed with what feels like “constant prying and digging.” Here’s an excellent example. Meet Bernice:

Dear David,

My husband and I have a great marriage and we love each other very much. We purchased your book out of curiosity and I am so glad we did. Even though our marriage is a good one I believe there will always be room for improvement.

There is one area that I would like to ask you about and hope you can help me to understand better what I need to try to do. As far as sex, after reading your book we are again like two teenagers getting away with sex in my parents bed or in some public place that makes us even hotter. The only part of our life that seems to be a problem is we never talk to each other. This is starting to take its toll on me and I feel the wedge between us sinking a bit deeper every day.

I would love to be able to share what happened in our day together over dinner, but it seems the last thing he wants to talk about is his day. I feel like I do not know this man in certain areas in his life and to be honest I do not like how that makes me feel. We never talk about his life before me at all, but his past is not really my biggest concern. Sure I would like to know all I can about him, but I would be happy if he would just open up to me some and share with me portions of his life. I do not feel that is too much to ask him to do.

I would appreciate any ideas you have on this subject, other than this it seems we have the perfect partnership and most loving marriage of any of our friends or for that matter anyone we know. He knows all about me and sometimes I feel like I am married to a stranger.

Thank you for your time,
Bernice


(Gentlemen, stick with me, because there is a huge lesson here to help you to understand women’s perceptions.)

Well Bernice, thank you for writing, and I’m going to start by asking you and everyone else who has not read the issue linked above to please do so. It is full of details about why men do this and how to handle it, and I’m not going to reprint it here because according to AWeber (my newsletter broadcaster and autoresponder manager), 84% of subscribers have read that newsletter and I don’t want to bore them with a repeat.

I will, however, help you to get some perspective here. You say that you have a wonderful marriage, and that’s simply not possible without good communication, which is a strong indication that you are talking a lot more than you are allowing yourself to acknowledge or else you’re exaggerating the state of your marriage, which is highly unlikely since this newsletter leaves your identity entirely anonymous and there’s no logical reason to do exaggerate. Hence, you’re making way too big a deal of him not talking about his past or his workday. The contents of the other article will help you to rectify your problem with the scant or missing “workday report,” but not about the issue of him talking about his past, or not talking, as the case may be.

Achievers, the kind of men who make terrific husbands because they are confident, intelligent, usually good leaders with good communications skills, and are therefore highly attractive, know that your mind and body go wherever your eyes are focused. Hence, they are always looking forward, not at the past. They don’t spend a lot of time reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” because they are constantly making good NEW days. One of the greatest keys to being an achiever is in learning the lessons that any event has to offer and then relegating the event to the past, taking forward only the lesson to guide future choices and actions.

This doesn’t mean that achievers have no fond memories, but they are usually far too busy looking forward to the next day, the next week, the next year, the next project or the next venture to be thinking much about the past. It’s a boring waste of time for us, as it holds no challenge at all, and it’s usually not until such a man has fully retired and is no longer looking forward to his next achievement (which rarely happens for true achievers, even when well beyond retirement age) that he will look favorably on spending much time talking about the past unless he needs it as a backdrop or framing for a lesson he is trying to teach to someone to whom is being a mentor.

“But what if he’s hiding something from me?” you say? What do guilty parties do when you ask them questions about something they are trying to hide? No, they don’t just refuse to answer or change the subject, they ACT GUILTY!

You’ve seen it. You ask a simple question like, “What were you doing before you met me?” and they first repeat your question back to you, then respond with something like, “What are you accusing me of???” and act indignant or embarrassed. Only a true sociopath can pull that maneuver off convincingly, because they have a structural and chemical condition in their brain that causes them to have no conscience, no fear of discovery.

Hence, if a man reacts indifferently or amused to a question about his past, he simply IS indifferent or amused, nothing more and nothing less. If he acts embarrassed he is embarrassed, and if he acts defensive he is defensive. No matter how intelligent we may be, when it comes to communication we men are simple creatures, far simpler than women, and if we’re hiding something bad that would negatively impact our relationship, women will pick up on it in a heartbeat because they have receptors for non-verbal communication that will likely be thousands of years evolving in men. (There’s part of your lesson, Guys: just don’t bother lying about anything, because you won’t get away with it for long, if at all.)

Now, Gentlemen, as distasteful as it might be, it would also help if you would cut the woman you love some slack and realize that she’s not just nosy, she’s genuinely curious about you and interested in knowing you as well as she can. Women also connect through sharing accounts of their day and exploring the emotions that the day’s events caused. Experiencing the emotions of your day help her to connect, and connection is one of the most important things in any relationship a woman has.

When she asks about your day, try to give her more than just, “Fine,” or “Lousy.” Something like, “It was a pretty good day. I didn’t start any new projects so there’s really nothing outstanding to report there, but everything else is moving forward without any kind of spectacular progress or interruption, so it was a day worth spending because I earned my pay. There was a funny thing that happened at lunch; the guy in the next office got a belly-dancer-gram and was embarrassed to death, but that’s about it,” would tickle the pants off of most women, just because you made the effort to give her more than a monosyllable answer, like, “Fine.”

There’s another BIG lesson: Women only answer in monosyllables when they are upset with you and have thrown up a wall, and expect that you are doing the same thing, so try to remain aware of that, avoid doing it, and pay attention when she does it because it’s a declaration that something needs to be straightened out.

If it was a bad day, “I don’t want to talk about it,” doesn’t work nearly as well as, “It was a very frustrating day, because there were a bunch of idiotic interruptions and nothing really went right, but tomorrow should be better, so if you don’t mind I’d really like to just put this day behind me and enjoy spending some time with you.” Her curiosity won’t be entirely satisfied, but she did get a taste of your frustration and the remaining curiosity will most likely be nullified because you took the time to give her the respect of an explanation instead of just cutting her off like she’s insignificant or you’re ticked off at her for asking.

As for talking about your past, again, as distasteful as it might seem, try to give her something, even if it’s just an interesting or amusing story from time to time, because she’s wanting to get to know you better. Women like stability and continuity and are usually also very curious in general, and feeling like they are familiar with your past creates a sense of security for them, as if they have known you all their life. If there are truly painful or embarrassing moments in your past, you should at least tell her that what she’s asking about is something that is truly painful or embarrassing that you are trying very hard to move beyond, and at least for the time being it would be best to leave it alone until you can do a better job of resolving it mentally and emotionally.

I have found, in my own life and that of those who have written me about theirs, honesty about one’s past to ultimately be the best policy, even if it ends up ending a relationship, because the stress of hiding the past wears on you and the truth about the past can come at you out of nowhere, and it’s far less likely to be a problem if she hears it from you than from someone else.

Obviously, confessions are always better received by a spouse than accusations, damning testimony and evidence, and ultimately convictions. Frankly, the time to confess all is between the marriage proposal and the wedding, not after the wedding when everything has become much more complicated. You want a partner to be with you because they choose to be with you, not because they choose not to leave as the lesser of two painful choices. You also want a partner who accepts you as you are, not who merely accepts your best side.

Communicating with your partner can be the glue that binds your relationship or the wedge that drives you apart; it’s your choice, and it’s a serious one. I cannot tell you how much easier my life has become since learning how to communicate with women; so few men can do it well that women really appreciate it when they are speaking with one, and will just about kill to protect a relationship with such a man because he’s rare and valuable, especially if he’s an alpha male to whom she’s genuinely attracted and knows that he has deliberately evaluated their relationship and decided that it is worth maintaining.

There are some gents on our forum, http://forum.makingherhappy.com, right now who are in deep trouble, and at least one of them is saying that failure to communicate is a huge part of what has his wife pressing for divorce. They’re getting some help in trying to fix the problem, too, and it would behoove you to read through it.

You can be one of us few guys who “get it” simply by reading and applying what you find in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage.’ It’s waiting for you at http://www.makingherhappy.com. Get yours now and get busy making your life better, because it’s far too short to spend it bored, frustrated, or fearful of being alone. As I keep saying, never put off until tomorrow the success and happiness you can have today!

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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