There is a gender difference between men and women when it comes to talking. Some experts say a woman needs to speak 25,000 words a day, while a man needs only to speak 10,000 words a day. Most men tend to use up their 10,000 words at work, leaving them quiet (and often just wanting to zone out) when they are home with their wives, while the wife on the other hand can’t wait to talk. Talking for a wife gives her a feeling of being loved and feeling connected to her husband, and for her this talking requires a certain level of focused attention from her husband.
Another gender difference between men and women when it comes to talking is related to stress. A woman de-stresses by talking, and she doesn’t necessarily want her husband to “fix” her problem. She feels better merely by verbalizing her feelings. A man on the other hand, generally speaking, finds talking stressful. He de-stresses by being quiet. Many men de-stress by watching television, or as John Gray, author of “Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus," puts it, men de-stress by going into their cave, a quiet zone in their house, where they prefer to be alone.
Whenever we discuss gender differences, there are always exceptions to the rule. In some relationships the man may be the talker, and the wife the one who prefers quietness, but generally speaking, a woman desires to talk more than a man does.
Awareness of these issues is the first step in bridging the gap between a husband and a wife. When partners understand these differences, a man can learn the skill of talking with his wife more, and openly sharing some of his feelings, and a woman can learn to be respectful of her husband’s need for quietness and his own space to de-stress.
This difference is exacerbated when an affair has taken place. The betrayed spouse (man or woman) has a high need to discuss the affair in order to make sense of what has happened and eventually heal.
Below are suggestions by Brian Bercht for getting your husband to talk. Most of the suggestions will also apply to getting your wife to talk, if she in fact is the one who has had the affair. These suggestions do transcend only discussing affair issues. They really apply in all relationships, affair or no affair.
Even in relationships where there has never been an affair in the marriage, many wives complain that their husbands don’t talk. They perceive that it is their husbands issue alone and are blinded to the ways their responses may be shutting their husbands down.
Before healing from the affair in our marriage, Brian was the strong, silent type. Today, I experience a totally different husband in my marriage, a husband who is very skilled at opening up and sharing his feelings, but this change in Brian did not come without my also making changes, and the biggest change I made that helped me to have a husband who talks to me, is I learned how to be quiet and listen, without passing judgment on his words. Many times, in the beginning, I had to allow for long silent pauses in our conversation in order to give Brian time to formulate his thoughts.
What I’ve learned is my husband is a man, and men are different, and if I want my husband to talk to me, I cannot engage in the conversation the same way I do with a girlfriend.
How Do You Motivate Your Husband to Talk? By Brian Bercht
1. If you ask him a question, then allow him time to answer without explaining to him why he is wrong.
2. If you ask him a question, then allow him time to answer without needing to point out to him why his answer doesn’t make sense.
3. If you ask him a question, let him know you want to hear his answer by - not responding (cross examining) to the first thing that does not line up or what seems to contradict a previous answer.
4. Let him know that you will hold your tongue and not interrupt his answers. He needs to feel some respect, and this is demonstrated by allowing him to complete his thought process.
5. Give him the questions in writing.
6. Use the phrases, ‘tell me more about that’; ‘that’s interesting, what allowed you to do that?’
7. Avoid the ‘Entrapment’ questions. These generally are questions where you are trying to lead your man into saying what you think he SHOULD say. Styling or re-phrasing your questions in such a way to make him answer ONLY the way you think he should is the same.
8. Give him time to think. Let him get the nerve up to answer. Allow him time to formulate his thoughts. (Remember, thinking about something DOES NOT mean he is lying!!!)
9. Try to avoid asking the ‘FEELING’ questions. Like ‘how did you feel when you were doing…’ ‘What did you feel after…’ ‘How did it feel when she said…’ Because quite likely he wasn’t thinking about any of these things.
10. Use the phrase, ‘I’d be interested to hear how you see…’ or
11. ‘I know you don’t really want to but it would mean a lot to me, if you told me about…’
12. If you have done this, then, admit that you have not really listened to him in the past. So really listen to his response to that statement.
13. Don’t start these conversations late at night.
14. Set a time limit on these talks and let him know what it is, and then stick to it!
15. Try sticking to one subject at a time. Avoid jumping around.
16. Remember he is not ‘rational & sound’ in his mind.
For more information on this topic:
Click here to listen to the February 26, 2010 telesemiar
How do you motivate your husband to talk?
©Copyright 2010 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.