The Secret is Shutting Up?
While I was at boot camp, some of the mealtime discussions touched on marriage and wives. One fellow said he asked a man married 30 years his secret to a happy marriage. The man said, “duct tape” and pointed to his mouth. The secret to a good marriage, according to this man, is shutting up. I said “What about a woman’s desire to connect, to hear from her husband?” Several at the table felt you shut up until she asks you to talk.
I suspect the ladies reading this must wonder how any man could think this is what women want. Yet, many (most?) men would see “keep your mouth shut” as good marriage advice. Why?
Anything you say can and will be used against you
It is common for a man to think anything he says to his wife will eventually cause him trouble. It feels like each word he speaks gives her ammunition for a future argument or complaint. I do not think this is the case for the vast majority of wives, but I do understand why men think it. Men generally talk less than women do. When we talk, we use fewer words to communicate the same idea, and we tend to give fewer peripheral details. For many men, a conversation with their wife feels like a water fight where he has a squirt gun and she has a fire hose. He cannot say as much as she can, and he finds it difficult to hear and process all she says. He feels he “cannot win” so not engaging seems like a safer option.
Dial it back a bit, and thank him for talking
If you want to encourage more talk, try to avoid flooding him with words. Learn to hold back on some of the less important details. Allow some silences so he can catch up and think of ways to respond. Make him aware you appreciate him talking with you. Finally, watch for and avoid things he might see as his words being used against him.
~ Paul – I’m XY, but I’m a talker
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