Would more marriages have better communication if wives embraced not just their need to talk but also their husbands need to process?
Two weeks ago I sent out a survey to my readers, asking among other things, to share their greatest area of need in marriage/relationship.
Communication was top of the list, with 72% of the respondents citing it as a top need.
So I thought I would run an article I wrote a few years ago, as many of you may not have read it.
Here it is.
I never knew I had a profound need for conversation until I got married.
I thought I was a cool, in-control girl who didn’t have annoying female traits like “plenty of talk.”
Then a few weeks into marriage, I began to feel frustrated when my husband failed to perceive my needs.
In spite of the “hints” I dropped all over the place.
I have always been competitive, so in efforts to “beat” my husband in the equals game, I refused to demand from him what he didn’t seem to need from me.
i.e he did not appear to have a burning desire to share everything he felt; fears, his day, his boss, his plans, his friends, his workplace.
And so I decided to man-up too.
The only problem was that my heart wasn’t coming along for that ride.
Mind and ego said, “don’t crumble, be tough.” Heart said “stop with this ridiculous! I want to talk!”
The tag of war brew frustration. Because I wanted my husband to need conversation the way I did; that way I figured he would initiate talk and then we’d be equal! Then I didn’t have to be the only “needy person” in the relationship.
The married months spread on, and the revelation began to pour in. The mercies of God, nothing else.
I started to learn
– My husband was not cold and insensitive, he simply could not decipher my needs. And he was okay not hashing out his inner life.
– Chatting and conversing with my husband was therapeutic, healing, exciting. Stifling my feelings and zipping up? Achieved the opposite.
– I am wired for relationship, connection, and nurture. And more often than not, it finds expression through words.
So allow me to introduce myself again; my name is Ngina “Talk” Otiende.
In my marriage, I am the talker, always having something to say, to discuss, to share, to critique, to unburden, to laugh about, something to steam off, just something…
And finally, I am cool with it.
But, my coolness has been interrupted by throngs of women, who just like me before I knew any better, determined to switch off “man-up” or serve up “the silent treatment.”
I hear it often that women, especially wives should learn to keep it shut. Remain quiet and talk less.
But I want to state that a woman is wired for communion and intimacy. A healthy wife will desire deep emotional intimacy with her husband.
She’s an intuitive, emotional creature who finds release, healing, excitement, energy in conversation.
Before a girl gets married, there’s a lot of stuff she doesn’t know about herself.
Top of the list is the revelation that once married; she would be required to state her needs for her husband to meet them.
That her husband will not just “know” things by looking at her face or reading her mood. That she will have to tell him exactly what she needs for him to meet that need. And state them not just once, but twice…thrice… if necessary.
After a woman discovers that she needs to express herself, (the what), the next thing she needs to figure out is the “how,” “when,” “where.”
Excellent communication is not merely moving your lips and hoping he’ll hear the sound. Good communication starts with understanding what you want.
Then you choose the right time to say it. And you get over yourself long enough to speak in a language that he will understand. Respect, empathy, kindness – if they are missing, you can forget the conversation.
Meeting him at the door while dissecting the depths a miserable day might not give you what you want. You desire a listening caring sympathizing ear, but a tired man may not be able to give that to you.
Allowing him a few minutes to wind down may help.
After accepting your need to talk and learning how to go about it is learning how to wait for feedback.
Like many men, my husband is a processor. He likes thinking about things and is rarely in a big hurry. He prefers to have real solutions before he opens his mouth to “talk about it.”
But like many women, I am wired to think and process as I speak.
Actually, the more women talk, the more we have clarity, the more we feel like our needs are being met because someone is listening (without offering solutions!) Sometimes talking is all we need.
And so we expect our men to be the same; opening up about big decisions, changes, thoughts before he’s had time to think about it. We want him to talk and process his thinking with us.
I am still learning how to give my husband his space.
In those early days, we did not know how to bridge our communication gap. But over time we are learning how to step out of our default wiring and reach out to one another.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash
Instead of getting aggravated with my insistence for quick answers, my husband will usually say something like “Babe, I need to think about this some more.”
And of course, the very statement used to frustrate me, “Why can’t you think about it now and we finish this conversation?”
But I’ve learned, and I am still learning; to let the man be. He’s different. Which helps me do lots of growing up and acquire new levels of patience.
This tug and pull with my husband remind me of my relationship with Christ.
How sometimes I stand before him, foot tapping, an impatient hand stretched right into His face.
I have found that one the His reasons for blessing me with Tommy is to help me become more like Him. Of course this “blessing” of marriage I had not anticipated.
I thought marriage was all about getting my needs met, promptly and flawlessly. But it’s often about learning to dance in the rain – embracing an imperfect relationship and in the process embracing His grace.
It is in the waiting room of life that I am transformed to become more like my God. At the end of the day, He is really after me first, not my husband or the “situation.” He always starts with the issues of my heart.
For more communication tips, read this post 6 things wives do that hinder communication in marriage
Question: So how has your journey of “talk’ been? What have you learned when it comes to better communication in marriage? Let us chat in Comments!
If communication is an area of struggle in your marriage or you simply want to get better, my book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After might help! I share our messy journey and how God taught us to speak each other’s language, building a marriage on grace and intentional giving. Learn more about the book here. You’ll also find purchase links.