In a marriage, we must communicate before things get bad and before people feel bored, distant, or resentful.
For us female types, venting and getting out all the bad emotions feels great. We like to talk about our feelings and what these feelings mean. Men, on the other hand, don’t find extended talking as therapeutic. They just want direction: “What do you want me to fix?”
Furthermore, women have the physiological advantage of being quicker self-soothers. We calm down better and faster. By contrast, men often avoid conflict because it’s so physically uncomfortable for them to recover.
With that in mind, here’s how you should approach your husband the next time you want to discuss a problem in your marriage:
Start by asking if it’s a good time to talk. Say, “Sweetie, (always begin with “Sweetie” or “Honey”) is it OK right now to talk about something I’m concerned/upset with?” Put yourself in your husband’s shoes. Just because you want to vent doesn’t mean he’s in the mindset. He may be feeling tired, stressed, or ill. If that’s the case, his response is only going to make you more testy. You will end up working against yourself. If he says no, hold on to whatever it was and come back to it later.
Say “I” instead of “you”. Therapy 101 teaches people to use “I” sentences. For example, “I feel lonely, and I miss you,” as opposed to,“You son of a bitch! You never pay enough attention to me!” Which do you think will be better received?
Explain, don’t attack. Say something like,“I know that work is important and that your mother is important, but I’m starting to feel ignored. I was hoping you and I could start talking about how to remedy this.” That is not an attack or a screaming fight; it’s informational. Most importantly, the statement ends with a proposed team-developed remedy (something guys are good at). Remember, you catch more flies with honey.