The Husband Hush: How to Get Men to Talk

Relationship Expert Matt Townsend shares ways to get your guy talking.

When it comes to men, women and communication one thing is perfectly clear – we do it differently. Here are a few things to keep in mind before uttering the phrase “We need to talk…”

1. Men talk to transfer data…Women talk to bond

Men tend to communicate more to transfer data and women tend to communicate to bond and strengthen the relationship. Because of those differences every conversation has the potential of creating a lot of frustration between men and women. While talking men tend to focus more on the facts and data and women tend to focus more on the hidden messages that will strengthen the future of the relationship. For example when a man tells his wife he is full in the middle of dinner, he actually means that his “stomach has reached a point of satiation and that there is no more room for food and liquid”. Very literal! The woman not so caught up on the “words or data” reads between the lines and when she hears he’s full she asks “didn’t you like my meal?” She’s looking to see how his communication might be reflection something about the state of the relationship between the two.

2. Make it Safe

Men tend to communicate with our egos attached. Everything for us can become and ego issue where women have egos but they’ve learned to not communicate with them attached or it will negatively affect bonding. Be aware of his ego in order to prevent a battle of fight or flight. Avoid things that threaten his ego, such as judgment, blaming, put downs, eye rolling, criticisms, rejections, or telling him what to do. If you have ever been told to “stop nagging” or “you sound like my mother” you know you’ve crossed the “male-ego boundary.”

3. Give Him A Choice

An age old issue that has always been around in relationships is one person’s need for independence to be balanced with their partner’s need for togetherness. Generally when it comes to relationships and communication a lot of people push the “togetherness talk” at the expense of the other person’s sense of independence. This is very true a lot of times with men and women. Generally speaking men tend to be much more independent animals, more solo minded, less community oriented than women. We like our independence and one of the best signs that we are still independent is that we still have “choices” that we get to make. My wife found that the best way to get me to do something is to state the facts about what needs to be done and give me a choice with general guidelines. It sounds like this, “Honey, I’ve got about 10 things I’d like to get done today before we got out tonight. Can you please choose three things off the list and get them done by noon so I can relax?” Now odds are my wife already knows what I’m going to choose but she gives me the choice so my independence remains in tact.

4. Make time for it and make it short

Some talks are torturous for men so there is no phrase that sends a chill down a man’s back as his wife asking, “Can we talk?” When a man hears that phrase it actually sounds more like this, “Do you have an indefinite amount of time that I can use to torture you and make you feel inadequate by point out where you make me miserable?” I know that’s not what you meant, that’s just what us crazy men hear. So a great way to start a conversation with a man is to tell him the topic and how much time you would like to talk about it (remember to keep it short) and then stick to it. It might sound something like this, “Honey can we take 10 minutes after dinner and figure out how we’re going to pay the extra tax bill that came in the mail today?”

5. Show him talking pays off

Men are about results…not just talk so all conversations should appear to be about getting results and progress. Be happy, positive and thankful for the conversation. A little bit of sugar goes a long way. Research shows that five positives are erased by one negative comment. Make sure to show him that you can be pleased and happy and that every conversation doesn’t just open up a can of a million more worms where no progress can be made. This will only discourage him from talking in the future.

Matt is a nationally-recognized marriage expert. He specializes in communication, life management, and conflict resolution. Matt founded Marriage Matters Utah after spending ten years as a consultant for Franklin Covey. He now coaches couples one-on-one and conducts marriage seminars around the country. You can also hear Matt on KSL Radio. The Matt Townsend Show airs every Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Townsend Relationship Center

(801) 747-2121

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