Excellent communication skills are one of the characteristics crucial to a healthy long term relationship. But it’s no secret that men and women communicate differently. Women communicate to let others know how they are feeling, seeking validation, understanding and at times sympathy and support. Communicating their feelings trumps solving problems, though women of course communicate for problem solving as well. Men tend to communicate very differently. The point of communication is to say something, or to problem solve. Men tend to be more guarded and less forthcoming with their emotions, which irritates women at times. Men find nodding, one word answers, or even grunts as acceptable answers to questions, which women find unacceptable. But you can get your man to communicate more openly. The first thing you can do is examine how you two communicate. Specifically, examine how you communicate with him and where the friction occurs. Are you dropping subtle hints? Men do not pick up on hints the same way women do. Your best chance is to communicate directly with him. Tell him when you are communicating for advice or problem solving in the beginning of the conversation, and when you are talking to vent, be validated or just be heard. You can even tell him how you read a wonderful article explaining how men and women communicate differently, offhandedly. Ask him what he thinks about it.
Do not expect your man to know what you want, or what you are thinking simply because he’s a man, or you feel he should know. Men do not come with a rule book on women. And women are complicated; what is appropriate for one is not for another. You have to be direct and tell him what you want, what he isn’t doing correctly, and how to correct the situation. Be positive. Teach him in a cute way if you can. If he is a bad communicator, be patient and give him examples of what you are looking for. Don’t shut him down. Be open to hearing his side of the story. Validate it as you expect him to validate what you say. That doesn’t mean you agree. It simply means you understand how he is feeling and where he is coming from. If you shut him down he won’t feel comfortable with communicating openly with you. If you truly desire open, honest communication, you must be prepared to hear things from time to time that you don’t like, or feel uncomfortable with. If he grunts one word answers and you feel disrespected, put the shoe on the other foot. Communicate with him that way when he wants to know something badly. He will soon know what it’s like and be willing to be more forthcoming with his thoughts and feelings. Let him know what you wish he would say or do. Don’t try to change him. Just get him to open up more, and fulfill your communication needs. Don’t expect perfection, but celebrate progress. Remember that love means accepting someone else’s shortcomings. That doesn’t mean they can’t make an effort to communicate effectively. It means loving them, praising them, accepting them, and never giving up on them. They should feel the same about you. For more guidance on improving your communication with your partner, read the advice of Jonathan Robinson in his book, Communication Miracles for Couples: Easy and Effective Tools to Create More Love and Less Conflict.