Understand Your Husband
- Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
- 2003 11 Nov
Does your husband’s behavior sometimes baffle you? Do you wish he would talk to you more? Men’s testosterone-soaked brains operate much differently from women’s brains, but there are ways you can understand your husband that will help you connect with him more.
Here are some tips you can use to work effectively with your husband’s uniquely male behavior:
- Communicate your feelings using stories and objects. Know that the male brain responds mostly to facts. So when discussing your feelings with your husband, use stories and object lessons to illustrate your point in tangible ways. For example, when describing sadness, you could show him an empty container and say that you feel empty, too. Or, to tell him you feel overworked, describe a chaotic, dirty locker room after a football game and share how you feel like you have to handle all that mess by yourself.
- Use discernment in conversations. Realize that men generally speak far fewer words per day than women do. Understand that your husband’s lack of conversation with you doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you; it’s just normal for men not to talk as much as women. When you first see your husband at the end of the day, don’t ask him multiple questions. Instead, give him a chance to unwind. Choose to talk only about topics that are directly relevant to him to hold his interest (regularly sharing details irrelevant to his life may cause him to assume you don’t have anything important to say). Choose good times and places to talk, where your husband isn’t feeling stressed or distracted.
- Strive to meet his physical needs while helping him become more emotionally intimate. Realize that physical intimacy is as important to men as emotional intimacy is to women. Don’t use negative tactics like giving your husband the silent treatment or withholding sex to try to punish him into becoming more sensitive. Instead, be affectionate to him, and work on training him toward emotional intimacy. To help him tap more into his emotions, connect his current situation to an event from his past, a situation at work, or a sports analogy so he can recognize the feelings that those things stir up in him and apply them to the situation at hand.
- Encourage him however you can. Let him know how much you love and respect him regularly. Thank him for big and small things he does for you. Ask him about his dreams, and support him as he pursues them. Compliment him -- especially in front of others. Create special surprises for him around the things he enjoys the most, such as by cooking his favorite meal for dinner.
- Don’t take his competitiveness personally. Know that men want to win at all costs, no matter what the situation, but that desire to conquer has nothing to do with you. Do all you can to make your husband feel like a winner. Regularly point out areas in which he excels, and affirm him in those areas.
- Work with him to deal with housework. Set realistic goals, and consider whether your expectations for how clean your house should be might be too high and cause unnecessary stress. Sit down with your husband to write a plan for equitable division of the household chores, switching off the ones that neither of you wants to do so both of you can sometimes get a break from them. Don’t keep score, but be most concerned about how you can serve each other. Don’t nag or manipulate your husband; instead, use positive reinforcement such as compliments for completed tasks to encourage more of the same.
- Be his companion. Ask him questions about his interests and hobbies, and make time to participate with him in his recreational pursuits. Share fun activities together on a regular basis.
Adapted from "Connecting with Your Husband" by Gary Smalley, © 2003 by Smalley Publishing Group, LLC. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., www.tyndale.com.
Dr. Gary Smalley is a well-known author and speaker on family relationships. He has written 16 best-selling books, including "The Language of Love," and has appeared on national television programs such as" The Oprah Winfrey Show", "Today", and "Larry King Live." He is the founder and chairman of the board of the Smalley Relationship Center. Gary and his wife, Norma, live in Branson, Missouri, and have three grown children.