While not quite as obvious and important as other gender differences (like genetics and wage earnings), this communication gap is just as heavily ingrained into society. What separates this gender gap from the others is that it doesn’t actually exist, and never has. The reality is that people have different ways of dealing with one another, and adhering to archaic ideas that claim all men operate one way and all women in another is simply ridiculous. Most couples have probably read, or at least heard a few of the reasons why communication remains a constant problem within a heterosexual relationship. Books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus only serve to perpetuate gender inequality by making people think that men and women are vastly different species. The fact is, we all want to be heard, but many of us are at a loss as to how to get our partner to understand us effectively.
The most poignant misconception between men and women is the belief that men don’t listen. It isn’t true. Well I mean, it could be true, if it’s in reference to a deaf man or a guy on television that I attempt to yell at through the screen. However, because of the stereotype that men and women communicate in an entirely different manners this false notion is out there. Let’s pretend for a few moments that this is a legitimate concept.
When it comes to communication, men are said to focus more on physical actions, while women are supposedly tuned in to emotional connections. So if you want to tell a man something, you have to get him in a firm headlock and then use your fingers to tap Morse code into his scalp. With women, you just write on a card and affix it to a puppy with gift ribbon. But what about when we don’t have the time and money to follow proper gender-specific communication protocol?
For example, women always want one-on-one contact and attention. For men, they don’t feel they need to be focused on their partner to hear what they’re saying. In other words, the majority of men don’t feel there needs to be an actual physical connection there in order to understand their partner. For instance, they tend to watch football while their partner attempts to express herself, leading to aggravation. The man claims he hears every word, but does he really? The best way to know for sure is to administer post-discussion quizzes. If he can recount your talking points as well as the points his team made, then okay maybe he can listen to you and watch football at the same time. If you still find it upsetting for him to not offer you his undivided attention, then file those feelings under “invalid” because how a man decides to do things trumps a woman’s emotions. This multi-tasking style of listening simply isn’t good communication for a woman. And, here, it is definitely the emotional aspect lacking which drives most women crazy. It’s also worth noting that all women are innately crazy, and can come unhinged at the slightest provocation. Men, on the other hand, never act irrationally because they are only capable of registering a third of the emotional spectrum. Sure, they can become enraged and violent, but it takes a lot to push them to that level, so as long as women play their cards right and keep their hysteria to a minimum, there’s nothing to worry about.
When emotions get high, tempers can get carried away, but there is a way you can relay your emotions to your partner without constantly being led to believe you’re looking for an argument! It’s a woman’s job in a relationship to figure out how to express herself in a way that doesn’t cause her partner to have to manipulate her into feeling bad about expressing herself. So, instead of nagging (the term that misogynists use to describe how women speak to men) or using grandiose gestures and bodily positions (acting like a diva), stop and think what might work much better in relaying your message to your significant other. Often times, the best way to keep the peace is to just not express your emotions at all. Men bottle up their feelings all the time, and look how well it works for them! Just ask any couple who has been together for more than 10 years, they will tell you the secret to sticking together is to just let all those negative emotions ferment inside you and avoid speaking to your partner as much as possible.
Do you see how inaccurate and utterly silly these bits of advice are? When you assign gender to individual character traits, you risk making sweeping generalizations about people. While it’s true that gender plays a role in our development and perspective, it doesn’t provide any solid answers or explanations for the communication issues people face within their relationships. So let’s move on with some real tips on how to talk with our loved ones, regardless of who likes to watch football.
What Works Best When Communicating With Your Significant Other
Believe it or not, most people really aren’t attempting to be rude when they act as if they don’t hear their partner. Some people have difficulty focusing on things due to stress, fatigue, or even an attention deficit disorder. It’s vital to the stability of a relationship to address these problems together and seek professional help if necessary. Most therapists will tell you; communication between couples works best when you have a specific time established to be together, just the two of you. If you can strike up a conversation on a car ride, or possibly even a walk with one another, you’ll find your partner is really willing to focus and listen to you. For many couples, it can be difficult to find alone time to talk. If your lives are hectic with work and family, you may have to take a more formal approach to having a one-on-one conversation. Treat your relationship more like a business endeavor and schedule meetings with your partner so that issues can be discussed in a constructive way. It may not seem like the most romantic thing, but you’ll find it beneficial in reassuring that the two of you are on the same page.
It’s also important to remember, if you want to be heard, choosing your words wisely can make all the difference as well. No one wants to be tuned out, so how you form your sentence, and how your body language is relayed does play a dramatic role in your partner’s response to you and your needs! For example, never start off negatively. Begin your sentence with: “You really do work hard, but there is…” and continue from here. It will get your partner’s attention in a positive way, versus an agitated one. This is particularly great advice if your partner is a child or enjoys being treated like one. If you are speaking to a mature adult, however, this approach may feel a bit patronizing. Contrary to popular misconception, men are not a bunch of simple-minded cavemen who need to be spoken to in an artificial tone and offered treats to cushion confrontations. They appreciate being addressed with the same level of intellect and respect as we expect from them. One of the great things about being in a long-term committed relationship is that you don’t have to sugar coat your words. Both men and women have feelings, and should feel safe to express their emotions with their partners. If you feel like you have to open a conversation with a compliment in order to be heard or to avoid a volatile confrontation, then there may be deeper issues to address.
In finality, no one wants to approach a conversation in an accusatory way, and this is a mistake both genders struggle with. In order to have your partner fully understand and listen to you, you should always start by expressing how you feel versus how what they do annoys you. Although annoyance is a valid feeling, there are other words that carry the same meaning without making your partner feel like they’re being insulted. Try to focus on explaining how you are perceiving things while pointing out that it may not have been the deliberate intentions of your partner to upset or bother you. Remember that using you or your partner’s gender to attack or excuse behavior is detrimental to both of you, and let compassion and accountability guide you instead. When more couples learn how to communicate better with one another, through respecting one another as well, they will see their relationship fully blossom!
[header image by David Marcu http://www.dmarcu.com/]