Communication between a man and a woman is a delicate thing. We each have our own way of communicating. We expect our significant other to pick up on all of our cues, both verbal and non-verbal, and know exactly what we are saying. Unfortunately, women do not come with a handbook of instructions. Neither do men, for that matter. Even more discouraging is that neither gender comes with the super-human power of mind reading. Because of these limitations, verbal communication is essential to the happiness and harmony of any successful marriage. With that in mind, here is some practical advice for both men and women so that your communication can help you do just that — communicate.
When in doubt, ask
If you feel your wife is giving you the silent treatment, stop what you are doing immediately, lovingly sit down next to her, put your arm around her, and ask her what she is thinking. A silent wife can mean a number of things. She could be contemplating a problem with which she has been struggling, she may be frustrated with her mother, she may be sad over the loss of a friend, or she may be frustrated with you. Be aware that her silence may not always mean that you are at the root of the problem. Be willing to put your own feelings aside, become selfless, and focus on her.
Above all, listen
Listen first. Then, before you start offering all of your “fix it” ideas ask her the question, “How can I help you?” She may not want anything more from you than just your listening ear. Don’t feel that you have to make everything better. Sometimes, you can make things better just by showing that you care enough about her to take the time to listen.
For most men, they know when their wives are upset. Rather than ignoring the obvious, hoping to avoid confrontation, lovingly ask your wife what her frustrations are and be ready to say, “I’m sorry” even if it wasn’t your fault. Those simple words have the power to save marriages. Make sure you use them often. This goes for women, too.
Never say, “I’m fine,” unless you mean it
When your husband takes the time to ask if you are ok, he is showing his love and concern for you. Make sure to give him an honest and heartfelt answer when he asks. Sometimes, we, as women, think that if we say, “I’m fine,” in a not so nice way, it will stick-it to our husband and make him suffer just a little longer for whatever it is we feel he has hurt us. We feel justified in prolonging his pain as if it is punishment for his insensitivity in the first place. In reality, if your husband has taken the time to ask if you are ok, he is a pretty great guy who loves you and deserves your love in return.
If you want something, ask
As women, we often feel that we can’t just come out and ask for what we want. Instead, we drop hints and expect our husband to somehow read our mind. We expect him to know exactly what our hints are saying. For example, if my husband comes home after work and I have had a long day of homeschooling with sick kids on top of it, and he says, “What’s for dinner?” I say, “I was going to fix spaghetti, but it is already after 5 p.m. I have had a horribly long day and haven’t even thawed the hamburger yet.” He says, “Oh, I’ll thaw the hamburger.” He totally missed the hint I left him. What I was saying was, “It is late, I am tired, let’s just order a pizza.” If that’s what I wanted, then why didn’t I just say that? This is what women have to understand. Men truly want to make their wives happy. Nothing would make them happier than to have a wife who will come out and simply ask for what it is that she wants rather than making him guess using a strand of irrational hints only understood by the female mind.
Often times, the silent treatment is used by wives as a way to punish their husbands, but this can be very damaging to a marriage. A strong marriage is built upon the ability for a husband and wife to communicate effectively with one another. If one or both spouses stop communicating, the marriage can no longer progress. Rather than withholding communication and driving a wedge into your relationship, use your ability to communicate to resolve your differences and strengthen your marriage. Communication is powerful. Words are powerful. If you are wise, you can use them to lovingly and effectively overcome every obstacle that is placed in your marriage.
Learning to communicate with your spouse will not only strengthen your marriage, it will also strengthen your ability to communicate with others. Men and women have very specific communication styles. When they learn to give and take from one another, together, they can create a marriage built on trust. Rather than building a marriage on mind reading and the guessing game, when couples learn to truly communicate, they can know each other’s needs and happily work together to fulfill them.