Here’s a sentence most husbands and boyfriends dread hearing:
“Honey, we need to talk.”
A man would probably rather hear nails across a chalkboard than his partner uttering those ominous words to him.
Chances are you’ve said those words in your relationships too, when things had reached a tipping point, when something was bothering you, and you tried everything to fix it, to no avail.
You tried being polite and asking for what you want.
Honey, do you mind taking your dirty dishes to the sink instead of leaving them on the coffee table for me to clean up?
You tried to express your feelings.
I don’t like cleaning up after you. It makes me feel unappreciated.
You tried warnings and ultimatums.
If I find another dirty mug and plate where it doesn’t belong, I’m going to scream.
You tried getting his attention with angry outbursts.
I’ve had it! Are you even listening to me??!
And when all else fails, and you thought of a dozen different ways you can approach the situation, you finally get very, very serious and announce, “Honey, we need to talk,” in hopes that finally, FINALLY, you’ll get through to him.
And if you’re like most couples, that request to talk was likely met with:
Or, your partner simply shook his head and walked out of the room.
You don’t get it. Isn’t talking about your relationship supposed to help you solve issues and bring you closer? How else are you supposed to improve your relationship if you can’t TALK about it!
Well, for one thing…
That’s a bold and shocking statement, I know. But, it’s true.
How do I know it’s true? Because research and my own clinical experience working with couples for more than four decades has validated it.
Talking about your relationship in an attempt to reconnect typically makes things worse, not better.
It’s not because you don’t know how to communicate, or because you or your partner aren’t actually motivated to make each other happy. On the contrary, men WANT to be close in a relationship, and they WANT their mate to be happy.
It’s not because you failed to use “I feel…” statements, or because you caught your mate at a bad time and he’s not interested in listening to your complaints right now.
Talking doesn’t make things better because it fails to bring you closer. Talking may work to bring you and your girlfriends or female family members closer, but it won’t necessarily bring you and your husband closer when you’re talking about problems and issues.
And because he responds negatively to talking, or at best, doesn’t respond at all, it makes you feel worse, too.
And that’s because…
The sexes have very different reactions to talking through issues in a relationship.
When a woman feels distant from her mate, it brings up feelings of fear and anxiety. This is a normal reaction for women, who thrive on connection and closeness.
When women feel isolated and rejected, they get worried and anxious.
This is why, if you’re a woman and you’re upset or unhappy, you want to talk it through. You want to feel connected again, and talking helps.
If you’re a man, and your mate wants to bring up her frustration and unhappiness with the relationship and you, it brings up an entirely different feeling.
Shame. Inadequacy. Weakness.
When your man hears a complaint, he believes that he’s disappointed you (even though you don’t agree), and he feels ashamed. His shame is so overwhelming at times that he can’t see beyond it and acknowledge that you’re afraid or worried.
He just thinks, “I’ve failed her.” He freezes up, gets defensive and shuts down.
The more he shuts down, lonelier and more frustrated you feel.
The lonelier you feel, the more you get resentful.
The more resentful you are, the more you criticize and complain.
And the more he feels like a failure.
It’s a downward spiral toward an emotional disconnect and perhaps ultimately, divorce. Statistics show that 80% of couples cite “growing apart” as the reason they called it quits.
That’s “code” for I’m done being unhappy, I don’t love you anymore, and I’d rather make a life without you, thank you very much.
It’s tragic, and it doesn’t have to happen.
And to think it may have all started with, “Honey, we need to talk.”
Isn’t good communication key to a good marriage, you might ask?
Aren’t you supposed to be honest with your partner?
Yes, of course.
I’m not suggesting that good communication is irrelevant, or that you have to lie or stay quiet about how upset or unhappy you are. It doesn’t mean you can never complain to your partner!
You just need to communicate in a way that makes him want to please you instead of shutting down in shame and embarrassment.
And that takes knowing how your man will (or won’t) respond to certain cues, what inspires his devotion and understanding, what will bring you closer, and what will improve your relationship without having to talk about it.
In other words, it takes knowing how to reconnect in your relationship. And that’s something I can absolutely help you with.
Happy couples know how to keep their relationship strong, vital, joyful without having to “talk about it” all the time. They know how to stay connected, so communication is effortless, and “complaining” is unnecessary.
How do they know all this? Is it something they’ve learned, or did they come into this world with these skills?
It doesn’t matter, what matters is that you can learn how to reconnect with your partner without talking about your relationship!
If you strengthen your connection…or how you relate to each other, show up, behave, and tune in…you’ll be surprised at how little intensity and impact the issues you’re facing now will have on your daily life.
You’ll stop having heavy conversations that lead nowhere.
You’ll focus on the solutions, and you’ll approach each other in a more positive, trusting way.
He’ll stop trying to avoid you, and your relationship will feel loving again.
Focusing on your connection can make you both happier, and bring you close again.
It can allow you to overcome just about any crisis, solve just about any issue and feel closer than you did…even when you were first falling in love.
I know it can, because I’ve worked with thousands of couples in my 40+ year career and have helped them transform their relationship, no matter what problems they were facing, by showing them how to reconnect and stay connected.
But I can’t possibly work individually with everyone who needs that kind of help. That’s why I’ve partnered with Flourish, so I can extend that help and guidance to as many people as possible, since almost all couples can benefit from these insights and tips.
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A relationship doesn’t need to lose passion and connection, just because you’ve been together for a long time. Just the opposite! It should get sweeter and more loving with time.
Marriage CAN be enlivening and wonderful, if you have the right knowledge and tools.
The advice contained in the articles I’ve written for Flourish will help you uncover the hidden issues that are draining your relationship of joy and passion, and help you create and maintain a strong foundation of love and respect, so that your relationship can last a lifetime.
May you have an extraordinary day,