As women, we long so much to connect with our partners, to have those deep conversations with our husbands and boyfriends that feel richly emotional, raw and vulnerable. Like the talks you have with your girlfriends! And if you don’t have a girlfriend who can hold this kind of space for you, you need to find one now.
You need that kind of female friendship and sister-bond if you want to have a better relationship with your guy. Why? Because men and women have different relational styles, different ways of communicating and connecting.
That’s not news to you. We all know by now that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus.” But here’s the thing. Once you are in a relationship with your guy, you think this doesn’t apply anymore. My guy will be different! He’ll do it with me. And we expect our husbands and boyfriends to be there for us, especially conversationally—like our girlfriends—which they just aren’t wired to do.
So #1, if you want to improve your relationship, go get a best girlfriend.
And #2, I want you to try listening to your male partner with a different ear.
Let’s say your complaint is that he never talks to me. But in actuality he does talk, just not about the things you’re interested in or in the way you want him to (refer back to #1).
So when he does talk about something, here’s what you do: just listen and be curious, even if you’re totally not interested in the subject (again, why you have to have #1 in place), and listen for what he’s trying to tell you about himself.
For example, maybe he’s telling you about playing video games, the levels he got to, the competitors he destroyed, how late he stayed up. And you’re thinking, “I honestly don’t care about this.” But if you listen for what he’s really sharing with you, it’s that he wants you to see him for his accomplishment in the game, his skill, his persistence.
Sometimes we forget to turn toward our partner when these potentially boring-to-the-female-brain subjects come up.
I’ll tell you a story from my own life. The other day, my husband came back from the hardware store and I asked, “How’d it go, did you get what you needed?” And he started telling me that he went to get plumbing supplies. He said, “I asked the guy for a 1-inch ball valve and he gave me a 1-inch gate valve. So I said ‘well, maybe that will work if you don’t have a ball valve.’ I don’t think the sales guy knew the difference. Then I spotted a ball valve on the shelf and said Oh, there’s a ball valve, I’ll just take that!”
And my husband smiled, happy with himself, and I have absolutely NO IDEA what he just said to me—at least not about the plumbing parts details.
But because I didn’t check out and instead paid attention, I do know what he shared with me in this little vignette—that he was proud of his knowledge about fixing things and hardware, that he was saying “see me” and what I’m capable of.
And, because I know him, he was also saying without words, “I learned this from my dad and I like being able to carry on the tradition of fixing things myself.”
If you think about it, that’s really kind of deep.
My husband told me if I write this, it will be the most BORING story ever. And that is exactly the point! Sometimes, when our partners are telling us something, we fail to listen beyond the boring and don’t hear what they are really sharing with us.
So I invite you to give it a try. Next time, stay tuned when the boring subject comes up and see what else is there. It might even make you feel closer to him. You can always call your girlfriend after!
Let me know how it goes. I wish you only success in your relationship!