If I Had Known…

February 2, 2015

in Uncategorized

  • If I had known she wanted _____, I’d have ____.
  • If I had known _____ bothered her, I’d have ____.
  • If I had known she was upset about _____, I’d have ____.
  • If I had known _____, mattered to her, I’d have ____.

I often hear this kind of thing from men. It’s not always those exact words, but they communicate they had no idea and, they would have done something different had they known.

Star or Happy Face? © Paul H. Byerly

Some of the time the fellow’s wife failed to tell him what she thought, wanted, or needed. More often, I suspect she made an effort to communicate with him, but he missed it. Some of this is about men not taking hints well, and some of it is about male/female differences in communication and processing.

If you need to tell him something, try the following:

  • Pick a good time. Not when he just got home, or when he is about to fall asleep. Also, avoid times when he is frustrated, stressed, hungry, or overdue for sex.
  • Get his attention. Men tend to focus on one thing at a time, so if there’s anything to distract him he may not hear you. Taking a walk or a drive together are good (excluding rush hour).
  • Keep it short. This is one of those places where less is more. He may tune out if you go long.
  • Give him a headline. Get the point first, and then give him the details. We process better this way.
  • Do your best to keep your emotions in check. This may be difficult, or impossible depending on the issue, but do your best. He can become more focused on your emotions than your words.
  • Be painfully concise. If you leave him to connect the dots, he may not reach what you see as the only obvious choice.
  • Suggest a couple of action steps for him – if appropriate. Make use of the fact we are task oriented.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I see a star!

Worth Reading: J has been on both sides, making her Confessions of a Higher-Drive Spouse excellent. If you are the higher drive spouse, you will identify. If you are the lower drive spouse, this will help you understand how it feels to be on the other side.

A big thank you to all of you who supported us last year. Lori just finished sending out 2014 giving statements/thank you letters. If you gave last year and do not hear from us shortly, let me know. If you want to support us financially, go here. If you want to support us with prayer, have at it – we need all the prayer we can get!

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Lina February 2, 2015 at 8:50 am

This seems demeaning. Should I use short sentences with words of no more than one syllable? :-)

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Paul Byerly February 2, 2015 at 9:38 am

No. ;-)
I suppose if a woman had said some of what I said, she’d get beat up for it. A man saying it is a bit safer.
For some men most of this is not necessary. For some all of it might still fall short. If a woman is having trouble communicating what she wants to say, I’d suggest this as a starting place, then work to see which are wise and which are unnecessary.
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Dan February 4, 2015 at 1:07 am

Even a primal grunt may do, Lina. :D
Dan recently posted…Her Sex Is Broken and I Gotta Fix It: Part 4 — The Marital Place Time ContinuumMy Profile

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J. Parker (@HotHolyHumorous) February 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm

This one — “Give him a headline. Get the point first, and then give him the details. We process better this way” — was a shock to me. I heard something like this about a year ago and queried my husband. He confirmed that he’d rather me start with the conclusion (which makes no sense to me) and then work backward. Well, okay then! It is definitely a change in my usual way of communicating, but if it helps him to listen better, me to feel understood, and us to reach a win-win, I’m good with it!

Thanks, Paul! (And yeah, been on both sides. Thanks for recommending my post.)
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Paul Byerly February 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm

I think Stu and Lisa discussed that on a podcast about a year ago. She thought he was crazy.
Thank Spock for the confirmation!
Paul Byerly recently posted…The “V” WordMy Profile

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T February 4, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I think this is more of a personality thing than a gender thing. Think Meyers-Briggs N versus S; N’s like to start with the big picture and then progress to details. S’s glean the big picture FROM the details. (I wonder what the gender divide is on N’s and S’s?)

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T February 4, 2015 at 12:52 pm

P.S. Paul I just realized I would love to know your Meyers-Briggs type as it probably plays into your ideas and writings almost as much as gender. It would be interesting in analyzing the commonalities and differences between your thoughts and my husband’s.

T, and I’m XXINTJ ;-)

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Paul Byerly February 5, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Interesting question, and the answer will get me in trouble.

Took it several times more than a decade ago – always ENTJ.

A month ago I took half a dozen on-line versions. I realise they are not always as good, but they all gave same answer: ENFP. So the last two had both flipped. The E & the N have always been strong, the other two were weak. The P/J is still weak, just flipped. The F/T went from weak T to fairly strong F.

Lori is INTJ – works well for us.
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Dan February 4, 2015 at 4:17 pm

Naw. A second vote for gender here. You do have partial point perhaps. (I get a partial point for triple alliteration.) I can talk with women really well because my personality has strong feminine characteristics. So it is personality in that regard, but personality influenced by gender. Ergo, gender still gets my vote.
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T February 4, 2015 at 6:58 pm

In that case, I am a man. “Give him a headline. Get the point first, and then give him the details.” Duh, of course, that’s the *correct* way to do it. :-) That’s the way I prefer a discourse, and several of my man friends don’t “play” this way, it takes FOREVER for them to get to the point! I wonder if it’s a “receiver” versus “giver” of information difference… when you are the one having to do the listening, you want the other person to get to the point!

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Paul Byerly February 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

It would be interesting to study this. I think both are at play. Some quick Goggling shows only 25% are intuition, and the majority of them are male.
Paul Byerly recently posted…Irritation and IntegrityMy Profile

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Jerry Stumpf February 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Paul,

Another way to facilitate communication is through good books and the two highlighter method: She reads and highlights in one color – say pink and he reads and highlights in another color – say blue (Yes – stereotypes). Purple says they each find it interesting.

They can go to the other partner and ask them to read the colored section and respond. It sometimes gets the other person to look at the page and reply, “Yea, so?” and the first can ask a clarifying question. It helps when it is a book which speaks on both sides of the marriage issue like “His Needs Her Needs” or “Love & Respect” because a husband can ask as he points, “Is this right?” and she can agree or not accordingly

Hope it is not too convoluted, it really works! The other positive aspect is as J pointed out in her discussion with hubby, she is referring to a third party and they can discuss it with no emotional trauma or baggage attached.

I enjoy talking about husband and wife reaching those “ah-ha” moments when the light bulbs go on everywhere!

Your Friend and fellow marriage coach — Jerry Stumpf
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Paul Byerly February 4, 2015 at 11:25 am

Always a great way to learn about each other. Need to figure out a way to do that on Kindle!
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Dan February 4, 2015 at 1:05 am

J and the reputed perception of Lisa go to affirm your suggestion that “some of it is about male/female differences in communication and processing.”

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Dan February 4, 2015 at 1:15 am

You’ve pretty much covered it, Paul. You did miss “Can this wait until a commercial?” ;D

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Paul Byerly February 4, 2015 at 11:23 am

Ah yes. Been too long since I had broadcast TV!
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