Don't Let the Exam-Season Become a Disaster...Here's my advice to...
Has Your Man Disappeared into His Communication ‘Cave’? No matter how hard some people insist that men and women are very similar, I find we have many differences. And I say, "Viva La Difference!" These are what keep us on our toes and life exciting. One crucial area we differ is in the way we communicate, particularly over what troubles us. This can be frustrating for men and women but there are ways around this.
The seven secrets to get him to reveal what’s on his mind:
Secret 1/Never Bombard Him
He's arrived home and you can tell something’s on his mind but heavens knows what it is! The desire to bombard him with questions is great but you need to resist this. The reason why is that although we women might want to be - even love to be - bombarded with questions about why we have a sad or stressed-out expression, men don't. From their point of view they don't want to appear weak or powerless over something that’s troubling them even if inside they feel that way. Bombarding them with questions signals that you think they're feeling weak and powerless - the very thing they don't want to be viewed as. One simple question about ‘how their day was’ is a good starting point before moving on to Secret 2.
Secret 2/Give Him Space
He's arrived home with a proverbial cloud hanging over him. Your first instinct is to fuss over him the way you’d like to be after a rough day. Instead, after giving him your normal greeting peck/hug, give him some space for manoeuvre. He needs time and space to let his day settle ‘mentally’. This means he mentally calms down and takes a bit of time to process it. This can be a slow process where he puts what's on his mind to one ‘mental corner’ before going back to it. It's important for him not to be crowded. Ancient man would disappear into his cave at this point - your man might disappear into the garden shed!
Secret 3/ Stop Trying to Be a Mind-Reader
"Oh dear," you think, because he's gone quiet while in this ‘mental settling’ phase. The next question you ask yourself is, "What could be up?" The way our psyches work is to try and be a mind-reader. We start imagining every possible scenario we can think of that might explain his mood and lack of communication. Stop - this isn't necessary! For starters, you could imagine all sorts of awful things having happened during his day - all of which could be wrong. Second, this ends up putting you into a stressful state that won't help communication with him when he's ready to talk.
Secret 4/ Highlight His Strengths
It's time to get subtle and give his potentially battered, or at least stressed-out, ego a boost. This is about making him feel good generally in your company and not about gushing over him - gushing might make him withdraw further into his ‘cave’. Use positive and simple phrases like, "I've been looking forward to putting my feet up with you," or, "Thank goodness you fixed the garbage disposal - such a help - it was driving me mad," or, "I’d love your opinion on something I want to run past you later." Such things will give him a little feelgood boost and make him more likely to talk.
Secret 5/Thinking Not Feeling
The time has arrived and he runs past you what’s been on his mind. The brass tacks of how you communicate can make a big difference to how far he opens up. Avoid emphasising ‘feelings’ and stick with his ‘thinking’. Don't say, as you might to a girlfriend, "How does that make you feel?" Instead ask him, "Well, what do you think about it?" Men naturally respond better to questions about ‘thinking’ something through rather than what they’re ‘feeling’ about it. So you don't want to scare him off with ‘emotional-speak’!
Secret 6/ Set Things in Stone
You love him and want to help him in times of need – just as you'd like to be helped when you need it. The best way you can keep him opening up is to set your own thoughts in stone. Make really concrete suggestions - things that can actually be done rather than simply trying to make him feel better. You'd be surprised how a man will respond to very practical suggestions, even if tables were reversed and you’d prefer discussing your feelings more.
Secret 7/Settle Things to His Satisfaction
One frequent complaint I hear from men is that when they've decided to discuss something with their partner she wants to settle things that would be to her satisfaction. It's important to remember that once he's talked through what's on his mind, and perhaps you’ve thrown around one or two concrete and practical suggestions, he may want to wrap it up at that. You might think it needs further analysis. Don't we women (including me) love to analyse every detail! But he doesn't. When you're the one who needs to talk about something, you can squeeze every last drop out of it, just don't expect him to do the same.
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