Something that really helped me – women tend to take silence as meaning “hatred.” But most men do not intend silence to mean that they are angry. I’m sure there can be exceptions – and they may be extra quiet or withdrawn if they are angry or feeling disrespected.
But there can be plenty of times when a guy loves his girl with all his heart, he just doesn’t have a big need to verbalize his emotions and feelings. It is easier to rest in our guy’s love if we know they love us, but they are just different in how they express their love.
A few more ideas to think about:
– Commit to learning to understand him better and to see the depth of his love and appreciate his love even if he has trouble expressing it verbally. Just because a man is not great at saying, “I love you” or giving compliments does not mean he doesn’t love deeply and love well. Many men who aren’t big talkers ARE big lovers – they show it in their own ways.
– Ask for what you need in a non-blaming, non-pressuring way – “I’d love it if you could listen to me for about 10 minutes sometime tonight, please. That would mean so much to me. I feel closer to you when I share my heart with you verbally. It makes me feel connected.” You may want to also mention that just him listening is a gift and IS a way of “fixing” things for you.
– Sometimes it helps to say, “I don’t really need any solutions right now, I just need to process my feelings out loud and feel heard. That makes me feel loved.” You can teach him gently, what your needs are – and as he sees that you are delighted when he listens, he will be encouraged to do that more often!
– THANK HIM any time he does listen!
– By sharing your heart, I don’t mean complaining, arguing, “emotionally vomiting all over him” or making demands – but sharing your feelings, your appreciation for him, your day, your dreams, your ideas… Of course, if it is late, you may want to keep it fairly brief.
– I personally suggest not trying to have a BIG TALK about something highly emotionally charged after about 10pm. When we are tired, things tend to go the wrong direction and become destructive very quickly!
– Allow him the floor to share his feelings, too. Show interest in what matters to him, and let him know that his feelings, his emotions, his dreams, his concerns, his thoughts and ideas are precious treasures to you.
– If he does open up to you, ask gentle questions – with genuine curiosity to get to know him better. And be accepting and calm. If he shares that something is a struggle for him, and he opens his heart to expose his vulnerability – and you get angry or offended – he will quickly close down his heart and not allow you to experience his vulnerability again.
– Ask general questions about “how men think,” “how guys think,” “what it’s like to be a man” and step into his world of masculinity with eyes wide with wonder at the beauty, the nobility, the stark contrasts there are to the world of femininity.
I love to ask my husband things like:
- When you are thinking about a big problem, do you think in words, pictures, silent movies, formulas?
- When you are deciding how you feel about something, do you use words in your mind to process emotions?
- How do you transfer your emotions to words? Does it take some extra time to be able to do that for you?
- What makes you feel safe to share your thoughts and your deepest dreams, your needs and your heart?
- (If we witnessed a woman disrespect or try to control her man – on TV or in real life) – How do you think that guy is feeling right now?/What would a man be thinking in a situation like that?
BOOKS THAT WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND MEN/YOUR MAN BETTER:
1. Sometimes asking him what another man would be thinking in a difficult situation is a lot less pressure and less personal, but can be a great window into your own man’s soul. I loved asking my husband some of the questions that Shaunti Feldhahn asked husbands in For Women Only. That book helped me understand men in general, and gave me a great start into understanding my own husband in particular more than probably any other book I have read. I would DEFINITELY recommend it!
2. A book my husband recently ordered for me that is VERY helpful is “How to Talk so Your Husband Will Listen and Listen So Your Husband Will Talk” by Rick Johnson. Yes, it is geared for wives. But there is a fantastic chapter about “authentic masculinity” for single Christian women about what to look for in a man, and warning flags to watch out for. It also has EXTREMELY helpful information about how men tend to think, why opening up emotionally can be difficult for men sometimes and some extremely practical suggestions about how to communicate with your man. Johnson talks about becoming a “husband whisperer” – and compares learning to communicate with your man as a similar process that “horse whisperers” use. He explains in much greater detail in the book. He is not saying that men are like horses – but a horse whisperer studies and learns about the stallion he works with and he adapts himself to the horse, he doesn’t expect the horse to adapt himself to the trainer.
Here are some nuggets from Johnson’s book:
“Women draw closer and become more intimate by conversing with their friends and lovers. Men don’t communicate this way, so they can’t figure out why women are continually talking. Women like to talk to each other about their problems. But, as a man, when my wife talks to me about her problems, I interpret it as a request for advice, and respond with a solution… To a man, talking about problems is just complaining. He doesn’t realize that a woman is simply trying to establish intimacy – inviting him to share himself with her… Understand that if you are trying to “get closer” to your man this way, it will probably fail. Men do not establish intimacy that way, and it will likely just lead to more frustration for both of you. If as a woman you can get your man to open up and talk about his needs, problems and concerns without him feeling like he’s less a man, he will be eternally grateful to you. However, NEVER use that information against him during an argument…” (and don’t share this information with your girlfriends or anyone else)
“To women, intimacy means closeness. To men, it means vulnerability…. this means trusting people enough to give them the power to emotionally injure you, which is absolutely contrary to a man’s nature.”
TEN KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL COMMUNICATION WITH MEN from Rick Johnson’s book
- Give him space
- One topic at a time
- Be consistent
- Say what you really mean ie: don’t say “nothing” is wrong if you really are upset, or he will assume you are handling your problem on your own and honor your request for him to not talk about it.
- Give him a problem to solve – present your concerns as a problem for him to help you solve
- Get physical – talk while DOING something: walking, playing golf, driving, etc.
- Timing is everything
- Fight Fair (realize that men say things in anger that they often regret and would rather you ignore). A woman’s sharp tongue can be intimidating to a man.
- Speak plainly – “I just want to feel heard right now. I don’t need a solution right now. This is just how I need to process my thoughts and feelings. Thank you for helping me!” Tell him that when he shares his thoughts and feelings with you, it makes you feel closer to him. Ask for exactly what you need, don’t give hints.