Friday, January 15, 2016

What Wives Say, What Husbands Hear

Audible had a $4.95 sale recently. Most of the titles didn't turn me on, but one, How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, seemed like it was worth a $5 bill, particularly because my wife and I teach the remarriage class for the diocese. I just finished it and enjoyed it quite a bit.

The premise is that because men and women communicate differently and have very different triggers, talking about your relationship is probably a bad idea. Instead, you need to understand how your partner sees things and what causes fear/shame responses and then change your behavior. Talking is likely to lead to negative responses.

In the case of men, we hear any criticism as an attack on our abilities as a protector and provider. It's like the old Far Side cartoon.

When wives want to talk about the relationship or when they criticize, that means we've failed to make them happy and we're doing a bad job. Women try to tell us what they'd like to see changed, but all we hear is "Blah blah blah failure blah blah blah not good enough blah blah blah can't meet my needs blah blah blah." Our reactions include anger, resentment and withdrawal.

There's much more to it than that and the book has some weak spots, but I picked up quite a bit from it. The whole concept of trying to avoid talking about the relationship is new and different and the techniques suggested deserve consideration.

More on this in later posts.

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