My hubby is a bit different than the average man, so not everything Laura Jensen Walker described in Dated Jekyll, Married Hyde spoke to me; yet, there were definitely several chapters that could have been written about Eric and me. In her chapter Talk Marathons vs. the Sixty-Second Speech Sprint, she hit the nail on the head!
When Eric and I eat out with other couples, or visit with people in their homes, Eric becomes either fidgety or sleepy unless he is doing something (e.g., playing cards) or engaging in deep, interesting (to him) conversation. He simply has the itch to accomplish something. And when he is not stimulated, he accomplishes a nap. For the longest time, and sometimes still today, I would get frustrated with him for such behavior. Can’t he just sit there and be polite?
Well, Laura to the rescue. A big thanks to her for reminding me that Eric is not trying to be rude or disrespectful. He’s just not built for marathon chats or for listening to other people talk endlessly about foreign topics (e.g., people he does not know, career fields with which he’s not familiar, etc.).
Before long, the sound of voices mingling becomes as the hum of a gentle lullaby. It is as if we are singing him to sleep with our chatter. Apparently Laura’s husband, Michael, is built the same way. Men, in general, were built for doing (e.g., accomplishing, fixing, battling) where women were built for those long conversations and details – that is, connecting.
Need to Chat?
Laura and I have made the same mistake most women make with their caring hubbies. We have plopped down beside our men and barraged them with painstakingly accurate detail about the countless people and situations in our lives. What are we doing when we do this? We are pouring our lives out to them in the same way we would do to our girlfriends. The only trouble is… they can’t handle it. Before long their minds will start to wander. Sometimes, I think this is a defensive mode they slip into when their brains are overloaded. ~smile~
Male and female conversational styles have nothing to do with intelligence. Both sexes were built with different skills and instincts. Men are generally better problem solvers. Women are generally better multi-taskers. Men tend to mentally process their problems while women process problems by talking them out.
So, ladies… don’t fall prey to the myth that your boyfriend or husband has to be your everything. God is the only One who can be our everything. He is our Rock. He is the only One who can handle everything we have to emotionally and verbally pour out (Isaiah 40:29, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 11:28-30). Additionally, be sure to embrace female relationships to have as an outlet. It is so nice to have girlfriends with whom you can call or chat over a cup of coffee. We need to verbally decompress with others who understand us and can handle our word gusts up to 140 words per minute!
Gentlemen, when your lady is pouring her life out to you at an alarming speed, know that she is not trying to drive you crazy. Listening to her verbally process through her day is an amazing show of love. Sometimes when I am doing this with Eric, it appears that it is taking every ounce of energy he has to keep his eyes open while I am talking to him; yet, I really appreciate him listening… especially when I know he’s exhausted.
This does not excuse men from talking with their ladies though. Dating couples need to talk to find out if they should eventually turn into married couples. Married couples need to keep talking to solve problems and live life together. However, the sexes need to compromise.
Discuss what times of day and environments are best for chatting. If he needs a half hour after work to decompress, it is best for him to take it – he needs it. However, if you are watching a television re-run and she looks like she is about to burst, lay down your needs and listen to her. There is a lot of give and take required in relationships.
Basically, men (in general) need to step it up a bit and learn to actively listen to their ladies. And ladies (in general) need to be understanding of their men’s needs and understand their overwhelm with too much verbal communication.
If you feel an emotional avalanche coming on, call a girlfriend or go to the Lord in prayer. Be sensitive to how tired or stressed he is and do not require him to always be at your beck and call. Your relationship will be happier if you find alternate outlets for your, as Laura calls them, “talk marathons.” ~smile~
Love Your Differences
Sometimes your lady’s chattiness will get under your skin, unless you are the chatty one in the family. ~smile~ When it does, remember to thank God for her gifts. Her multi-tasking self keeps your life running smoothly. She can help you understand people from a different angle. God made you different for a reason.
When your man seems disinterested in your story, show him grace. Maybe you can ask him if there is a better time to talk. Good chances are he is not even aware that he is drifting. ~smile~ His single-focused mind comes in handy when you need something fixed. He can conquer and divide because of his powerful single-oriented focus… a focus women’s multi-tasking minds do not inherently possess.
A big thanks to Laura Walker Jensen for her humorous account of the conversational differences in her marriage. If you cannot relate yet, just wait until you are married… you will. ~smile~
Do you and your significant experience the traditional male/female communication breakdowns?