When I get these questions from clients, my first response is always: Are you happy with your life/relationship(s) as is? If so, you have nothing to worry about. If not, what have you got to lose in learning how to respect and communicate with the men in your life?
In this post, I discussed the timing of inviting your man back into love. In the post before that one, I wrote about some differences in men and women’s brains and why it’s important to offer your gift of love, why it’s important to invite your man back into his heart and belly—back into love.
In my last post, we looked at some specific techniques to get your man out of his head—out of his driven, focused, “work” mode—and into his heart and belly, where he can share in love, where he can get a break from the driven, obsessive energy of masculinity and where he can notice and appreciate your feminine energy.
If you followed some of the instructions in that last posts, now you have his attention.
Now that you’ve got his attention and focus, how do you communicate with him most effectively? We’ll cover some of those ideas in this post.
Remember, his brain works differently than ours—not “less than” and not slower and not more shallowly—just differently. Learn the differences and begin to respect those differences.
Just because his brain works differently than ours, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with him or his brain or the way he thinks. You can choose to be angry or upset or hurt by this, or you can realize he is a man with a man’s brain and you can work with it, being respectful of how different he is
Please leave your prejudices behind and stop rolling your eyes at him (or behind his back). Be respectful and kind. See him and men and how their brains work as a lovely new land to be explored. Be willing to learn and enjoy—bring your sense of adventure.
“Be mature. Be kind. Be honorable. You will never regret taking the high road no matter what happens.” ~ Steve Horsmon
Get in the Same Zip Code
The reason he doesn’t respond to you sometimes? Because you haven’t gotten his attention, so that he can switch “boxes” in his brain. He is not ignoring you. The way his brain works makes that impossible.
Don’t just yell out the back door, “Dinner’s ready!” or “Your brother’s on the phone!” and expect him to respond. He is focused out there, doing his guy thing.
Go out to where he is and do this first. Then tell him the information. He might be irritated at the interruption, but be respectful enough to know that the way his brains works makes being in physical proximity to him necessary, and he needs that from you.
Being in the same zip code is especially important if you are conveying significant information—meaning you are talking about something that’s important to you and that you want him to remember.
Don’t walk off, or start doing something else while you’re talking to him. If it’s important, convey that by staying right there and keeping eye contact. Put your phone away, close the laptop, wait until you’re not cooking or sorting bills. Tell him, “This is really important to me.”
Make an Appointment Ahead of Time
Men need to be able to switch into the appropriate box in their brains. Be kind and give him a chance to do that. Let him know ahead of time what you want to talk about and set an appointment. Put it on his calendar.
Ask him, “It would make me so happy to talk about this with you. Is this a good time?” If he says no, don’t take it personally, simply ask, “Okay, when would be a better time? How about Wednesday after dinner?” If that works, get it on both of your literal calendars, so that he has a reminder.
Men are goal-oriented and are driven to accomplish those goals. When you get on his calendar, not only does he have a reminder, you and that discussion are now a goal to be accomplished.
Remember, don’t be offended by the way his brain works, learn about it, respect it—use this knowledge to promote peace and ease between the two of you.
He will be so much more open to giving his attention to you if you respect his needs. Tell him what you want to talk to him about—don’t keep him guessing and nervous. There’s nothing respectful about that.
Remind Him Nicely
You will have to tell him things more than once—remind him. That’s just the way his brain works. He is always so focused on right now, that he is unable to think ahead in that moment. He needs to be reminded—kindly.
Alison Armstrong suggests something like this. As you are both waking up and getting out of bed, say something like, “Wow, only four days until my birthday! I am so excited this year!”
And then maybe the day of, “Happy birthday to me, the birthday girl!” as you smile and hug him. He gets to celebrate right then and there with you, and you have reminded him kindly.
Tell him What you Need
Women need and like to talk and rant out loud. We just do. That’s how we process and figure out how we’re feeling about something. That’s how we understand and make sense of our world.
“I believe that when women stop emasculating men, men will give us everything we ever wanted…” ~ Alison Armstrong
Don’t expect him to be your girlfriend. Don’t expect him to be able—or willing—to talk to you like a woman would/does. He shouldn’t be expected to learn and then execute that.
To insist he do that is actually a subtle form of emasculation. When you refuse to let him talk to you like a man talks, you are demanding he be a woman, and you are saying there is something wrong with him being and talking like a man.
If this idea doesn’t sit right with you, pushes buttons or otherwise pisses you off, think of the opposite.
Think of just how pissed off you’d be if a man refused to talk to you until you “cool off and become more rational”—in other words, until you can communicate more like him, more like a man.
Men can get overwhelmed by all those words if he thinks you need him to fix it. And most men are fixers—it’s a guy thing. If you need to just rant and talk out loud and just need him to listen, say so.
Try something like, “Baby, I really need to just vent/rant right now about this. Could you just give me the gift of letting me talk it out? I don’t need you to fix anything. I simply need your ear.” And when he does this for you, let him know how happy that makes you!
Learn to Listen
But learn to listen not like a woman needs to be listened to, but like a man does. You know how we talk together, ladies. We finish each other’s sentences, exclaim out loud to empathize and talk over each other in our excitement and intensity, sometimes gesturing wildly and emphatically.
Ask a question of a man and then put an invisible piece of duct tape over your mouth and just sit and wait and listen. You will get the most wonderful, deep, incredible answers. It is beautiful.
While he talks, let him know he still has your attention, but without interrupting—just nod or make small sounds. Remember, men focus on one thing at a time (I am so envious of this!), so don’t derail him by being too verbal in your responses while he’s talking.
Then after he stops talking, use Alison’s 10-second rule: after he stops talking, wait. Wait another 10 seconds before saying anything or asking the next question. Give him time to add on to his original answer if he chooses to.
In stressful/critical situations, men often like to take the information/question you’ve given them and then want to process and come back to you with their answer or their condensed version of what is needed.
They often will want to give you just the end result of their analysis rather than talk it all out and come to an out-loud, verbal decision right in that moment.
I know it can be difficult to wait for him to do this—especially in the middle of an argument or uncomfortable confrontation, but he really does need to do this.
Be patient and kind and respect that they want to bring you their best answer, their best selves, and that is why they are requesting your patience. Trust him (and maybe call a girlfriend in the interim and get her to talk you down off the ledge while you wait).
Just the Facts, Ma’am—Keep it Short and To-the-Point
When you need something other than just to rant, choose your words wisely. Focus on efficiency. Men can get overwhelmed by all the words and emotions coming out of us, and when men get overwhelmed, they tend to want to retreat to their “nothing box.”
That’s not how they communicate effectively. Their brains work quickly and comprehensively, taking in information in big, often visual, chunks. They don’t need or want all the fluff. Help them help you by sorting through all that ahead of time.
A good rule of proverbial thumb: talk sticky stuff out with your girlfriend(s) first, then take the boiled-down reduction to your man to discuss.
Tell Him the ROI (Return on Investment)
Get his attention and tell him what the ROI is for him if he listens to you.
Try something like, “When I feel listened-to and heard, I am able to relax and concentrate on you and on having a good time with you. I will be the normal, happy woman you know and love. I will have more confidence. I will be easier to live with. I won’t feel crazy and isolated. You will be my hero for listening to me rant/talk/emote and being my support. I feel like I can go out and conquer the world when I know you hear and respect me by really listening to me. I love that feeling of knowing you have my back and that we are a team this way. I’ll want to connect with you more deeply. I’ll want to have sex more often.”
Why Men Don’t Tell you the Truth
“Men are not devious like women—unless backed into a corner, men will always tell the truth and say what they mean.” ~ Alison Armstrong
If you find out your man has lied to you, the question you might think about asking yourself is not “Why is my man a liar?” but rather, “Why does he feel backed into a corner? Is it because my reaction to this in the past has been not very pleasant, so he is avoiding that again, perhaps? Do I emasculate him on a regular basis in this type of situation, so that he needs to avoid that?”
And remember, many men pretend to be vulnerable, and don’t tell us the entire truth, so that we women don’t kick the emotional shit out of them, according to research by Brene Brown.
I’m not saying a woman is responsible when a man lies to her, I’m just saying that in an otherwise, seemingly normal, relationship where lying is unusual, these might be questions to think about. And it might be time to learn how, as a woman, to respectfully sit with and honor his true, deep (scary!) vulnerability.
And gentlemen, why are you lying to her? Is it because you don’t want her emotions, her femininity? Is that too scary?
“One of the deepest feminine pleasures is when a man stands full, present, and unreactive in the midst of his woman’s emotional storms. When he stays present with her, and loves her through the layers of wildness and closure, then she feels his trustability, and she can relax.” ~ David Deida, The Way of the Superior Man
Do You have a Great Ask?
Alison Armstrong, who has studied men for over 25 years, encourages women to use the Great Ask with men. Figure out what you need instead of just complaining first. Then ask him for that. Example: “I really love birthday parties. Could you plan a birthday party for me this year?”
Then ask him, “Now what do you need from me to make this happen?” Then put the invisible duct tape over your mouth and wait and let him tell you what he needs from you.
He may need to be reminded nicely, or he may need you to tell him more about what kind of party you want. He may need you to witness him putting it in/on his calendar, so he has a reminder.
Then do that for him, so as to help him get you what you need/want. That is the Great Ask.
“When we share our emotions with our man, it inspires him to protect and help us. Share the specific emotions and then ask for what you want/need, ‘When we don’t get enough time together, I feel sad and I miss you. I would love to have more quality time with you. And what do you need from me to help make this happen?’” ~ Alison Armstrong
Is this manipulation?
Some folks will see this information as manipulation. And indeed, if that is your motive, then it is manipulation. And some will recognize it as the informed route to the relationship that they have always wanted to have but either didn’t know how, or didn’t have the courage, to do.
Tony Robbins talks about how you don’t just want your partner to be a fan, because satisfied fans/clients leave. He says we should create raving fans of our partners, because raving fans just keep coming back for more. It’s the difference between worshiping and loving someone.
We’ll talk more about whether this is manipulation or not in the next post.
A version also published at elephant journal.
Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo.