If I Had Known…

  • 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 on “If I Had Known…

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

  2. 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.)
    J. Parker (@HotHolyHumorous) recently posted…3 Attitude Shifts That Vastly Improved My Marriage HappinessMy Profile

      • 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?)

        • 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 ;-)

          • 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.
            Paul Byerly recently posted…Irritation and IntegrityMy Profile

          • 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!

  3. 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
    Jerry Stumpf recently posted…Multiple Blogs give great gift ideas and more for Valentine’s DayMy Profile

  4. 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.”

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

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