The question, “Why don’t men listen?” continues to plague women of all ages. But, is it the man or the woman who’s the problem? Surprisingly, it’s both parties. Communication between a husband and wife is only strong when you know how to express yourself well. Here are six conversations men complain about according to marriage therapists:
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1. “Yes, but…”
Agreeing with what your husband says only to rebuttal him with “but” completely dismisses his opinion. Using “but” both denies and patronizes your partner. Communication is only successful when both sides are willing to work together and not belittle one another.
Tip: Use “yes, and” instead. This invites collaboration and more effective communication.
2. “We need to talk”
This phrase often implies there is a problem. Men withdraw emotionally from this phrase because they may feel ashamed. Dr. Patricia Love, best-selling author of “How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It” says talking about feelings soothes women, but makes men uncomfortable. “[Men’s] bodies flood with the stress hormone cortisol. There’s more blood flow to muscles. They get edgy, so women think they’re not listening,” Love said.
Tip: Using the pronoun “we” instead of “you” shows you are making a collaborative effort instead of playing the blame game. Also, save important conversations for the morning instead of the night. The quality of conversation will be higher when you’re both well-rested and coherent.
3. “Why don’t you do things for me like our neighbor does for his wife?”
Comparisons to ex or your friend’s husband only makes men feel insignificant and worthless. You wouldn’t like it if he compared you to supermodels in magazines or his friends’ wives.
Tip: Instead of unfairly comparing your man to others, build him up by pointing out the unique qualities he offers.
4. “I hate when you…”
There is a right way and a wrong way to criticize your spouse. Your spouse doesn’t like to hear you complain about what they’re doing wrong. Harsh words like “hate,” “always” and “never” can make matters 10 times worse.
Tip: Show appreciation for what he is doing right. Point out the way you love when he does something, and express your gratitude to your sweetheart.
5. “Remember when you made that mistake five years ago?”
Do your relationship a favor and keep the past in the past. Guys who are constantly being reminded of their mistakes will feel trapped and frustrated.
Tip: Keep conversations focused on what is happening now. Let go of the past, forgive him and move on.
6. “You shouldn’t have”
Denying your spouse the opportunity to spoil you every once in a while is hurtful. The thought he put into buying you a gift he knew you would love is a gesture of true love. By telling him he shouldn’t have gotten you anything, you are rejecting his gift and affection for you.
Tip: A simple “thank you” will show him how much you appreciate his gesture. If you have a problem with how much it cost or don’t like the gift, set some boundaries or guidelines of more meaningful things he could do for you in the future, but do so at a later time.