Marital communications can break down because women use hints and indirection when they speak, and men don't.
Jay and Laura Laffoon give some classic examples in their book, “He Said, She Said.” Wife says, “The trash container is full.” Husband looks and replies, “Yes, it is,” as he heads toward his easy chair. Or, husband walks into the bedroom. His wife asks, “Is that your underwear on the floor?” He replies, “It better be!”
There are two primary reasons for miscommunication:
First, men tend to give words their literal meanings far more than women. Saying, “It's cold,” is a statement about the temperature, not a request to get you a sweater.
Second, as Allan and Barbara Pease explain in “Body Language,” women “use five vocal tones to emphasize a point. Unfortunately, most men can only indentify three.”
What should wives do? Make direct, straightforward requests in words that mean what you really want.
The Laffoons provide an example:
You say, “The trash is full.” He hears data about the status of the trash, not a request. You ask, “Will you take out the trash?” He hears a request to take the trash out, at his convenience. You say, “Will you take the trash out right now?” He hears a request for immediate action.
Laura Laffoon tells wives, “communicate using short, precise statements.”
The formula is simple: Tell your husband “I need (blank) from you.” If you want it now, add “now” on the end. If you want your husband to listen, but don't need anything fixed, say, “I don't need you to fix this; I just need you to listen.”
Men are designed to fix stuff and solve problems, and the Laffoons explain that it's a sign of respect to tell your husband, “I really need your advice/help on this issue/problem.”
Using clear, concise statements not only shows respect for him and how he communicates, but it will also help your marriage grow and flourish.
©2012, All Rights Reserved. James Sheridan’s website is www.marriagedoneright.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.