In my relationship quiz, I enable participants to ask their daunting, private questions at the end. One very common question that is posed to be, time and time again, is based around the different communication styles between men and women. Just like this one “Why can’t he communicate?”
Let’s unravel and analyse this question a bit. By the way, is it a question or an accusation?
For the moment, let’s take as a question.
First of all, I am sure that he can communicate very well, because you are in a relationship with him and he must have clearly communicated to you at one time that he loves you and that he wants to be with you.
I am also sure that each day he is able to communicate with his peers, his work colleagues and also any shop assistant or waiter when he wants something.
Therefore, maybe the question must read “Why does he not communicate?”
Again, assuming that he is communicating throughout the day with several people in an efficient way, the question might be: “Why does he not communicate with me?”
I know it looks ridiculous to analyse this question to such a deep extent, but bear with me because we are coming to a very important junction in a moment.
Back to that question – Is he really not communicating with you? I’m sure he can articulate very well if he wants to use the bathroom or if he wants to watch television, if he wants to have something to eat or if he wants to have sex.
So, it’s not about whether he can or can’t communicate with you.
The specific question or statement from the participants of my quiz should read.
“My husband does not communicate with me over the things that I find important”.
We could take these questions as they are, or we can break them down to their very true meaning, and read them as this obvious statement above, because here is another very important distinction:
It is in your perception that he does not communicate. Maybe in his view he is communicating with you?
To make it even more clear the statement should read:
“I would like to communicate with my partner over things that are important to me.”
I know it may feel like splitting hairs, but when you reframe the statement, you see that there is a big difference between the frustration and resignation in the quote “Why can’t he communicate?” and the statement “I would like to communicate with my partner over things that are important to me.”
The former is a nagging accusation and does not lead anywhere.
The latter is a positive and goal-oriented statement that we can work with.
So, what could you do when you find yourself totally frustrated with a partner
who does not – at least in your view– communicate?
You want to speak with your partner about an important topic and you notice that he does not initiate, react or respond to you.
You might want to consider a few points here, before the situation escalates into an argument:
- How important is it for you (or anyone else involved) to speak about this topic now?
- How important is this topic for you?
- How important is this topic for him?
- Where is his mind right now?
- How tired is he, how tired are you?
With asking yourself these questions, you can assess the situation better and think about your next step.
Depending on importance and urgency of the conversation, you can then turn to your partner and say in a neutral tone – neither demanding nor nagging: “Look honey, I really want to speak to you about this xyz, and I see that you don’t have the time right now. I need to talk to you about xyz because it has an impact on my abc. When would be a good time for you to talk about it?”
By stating your topic, and reiterating why it is important to you, you are acknowledging that he might be in a different headspace and you are giving him the option to decide when it would be a good time. You are also giving him time to prepare his emotions and response, without being caught off guard.
You see it is all about respecting the other person and their model of the world.
And by the way, the above scenario does play out in the same way with reversed roles of male and female. It is not always men who can’t communicate. 🙂
You might want to grab a copy of my book, “Why Money Is More Important Than Sex”. There you find more tips on maintaining a loving, intimate and respectful relationship.