Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Sometimes guys get a bad rap from their female counterparts when it comes to communication. We can come across as being disinterested, insensitive, or clueless!
Why is it that a guy can be so open with a girl when they first start dating and so closed after they marry? Confusing huh? (I’ll get to that in a minute.)
Women often tell me she thinks her guy doesn’t open up because he doesn’t care about her feelings. Or she may say, “I don’t think I matter to him anymore.”
Truth be told, most husbands really do care about their wives, but struggle showing it in a manner that matters to her. This disconnect leaves her feeling sad, and him feeling frustrated.
Your guy doesn’t open up for reasons that are not that simple. Let’s peel the scalp back and examine the male brain. Here are three common reasons why your guy struggles with communication.
He was raised to focus on one side of the brain
I’m not making excuses here. But let me explain why men have a hard time opening up to women. Historically, males are raised to focus on the left side of the brain. I call this the “thinking” side. Females primarily focus on the right brain hemisphere where “feelings” reside.
Young boys are encouraged to express emotions of frustration and anger, but are taught to reject (suppress) “weaker emotions”: fear, sadness, loneliness, etc…
Male social development reinforces traits of strength, competition, courage, etc… so we can be providers and protectors of our family. This over-emphasis on “thinking” limits our capacity to connect on an emotional level.
In early romance, the feeling and sensual side of the brain is activated in pursuit of the woman. Guys may report a sexual conquest to their buddies, but will conceal how he talks for hours with the girl on the phone. Meanwhile, she’s telling her girlfriends how he opens up and is so sensitive to her feelings.
After marriage, most guys deactivate the right brain and go back to left brain processing. This conditioned response promotes success in the workplace, but predicts failure at home.
He speaks one language – LOGIC
Women are bilingual. They can speak the language of emotions and logic. Let’s be honest guys. We are outmatched!
When a wife needs to talk about something, men respond with the language of logic. He doesn’t know how to speak the language of emotions. So, he expects his wife to speak logic. This doesn’t help her at all. It usually makes matters worse!
He tries but it’s never good enough
Men try to speak the language of emotions but we’re amateurs. I know this is frustrating for women, especially knowing we did it during early romance. Guys get frustrated too because we were not raised to attend to feelings.
When it comes to communication, most guys resort to logic and foreplay. We fix problems, then seek connection through sex. Most women need emotional connection before they open up sexually. See the disconnect?
A pattern develops where the wife criticizes the husband’s lack of communication and he shuts down because no matter what he does, it’s never good enough. So, guys retreat and focus on what they are successful at – fixing problems at work, around the house, etc… A wife feels lonely and unimportant.
How to Make it Easier For Your Guy to Open Up
Fixing a guy’s problem with communication is primarily his to address. Guys we are raised to fix problems. If you don’t know how to express or respond to emotions, this is your job to fix. You can start by learning Emotional Intelligence. Many receive this training in the workplace. Why not apply it at home? If you need help, seek out a coach.
Ladies, you can make it a little easier on him by doing these three things.
Cut him some slack
Knowing his right brain is under-developed, you may want to lower your bar of expectation. Remember, he was not raised bilingual as you were.
Have a little empathy knowing he was likely raised to focus on his thinking brain. Remind yourself that he does care, but for now, he shows it differently.
Before you talk, preface what you want from him
You may have to adopt the mindset of an emotional coach. If you need to open up, prep your guy on what you need from him. Here’s what you might say.
You don’t need to fix anything right now. It would mean a lot to me if you just listened and try to understand what I would like to express.
After you talk to him, ask him if he could tell you what he understands you’re saying.
Give him some props for his effort
Most guys I talk to are not interested in compliments, they just want some acknowledgement of their effort. Your guy just wants to know you see he is trying. This positive feedback loop will inform him to keep it up.
Say things like, “Thank you. It really helped me when you listened and told me you understood how I felt. That’s all I needed.”
Remember, guys have a fixer mentality. If you say listening helps, then he thinks he’s fixed the problem. Make sense?
Now it’s your turn
What did you learn about your guy that will help you in trying to connect with him going forward?
If you’re a guy, what do you plan to do to work on the right side of your brain?
Listen to the All About We Podcast
in the link at the top where I dig deeper on this topic.