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Why the “Rapid Fire” Method of Talking Doesn’t Work with Our Men.

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My husband actually asked me to write this post and it is an honor to write about this topic!

Greg and I have been talking about how differently men and women process, speak and think during conversations. What I am about to share with you is REALLY FOREIGN to our female minds – but it is fascinating to me to discover more about how men think and process and how we can learn to better communicate with them.  So I am excited to share this information with you and I think it will prove to be very helpful.

SHAUNTI FELDHAN’S book FOR WOMEN ONLY

(a new, revised version just came out this past week!  It is REALLY good!)

Shaunti describes that a woman’s mind is like a computer with many “windows” always open at the same time.  We are ALWAYS thinking about something – usually way more than one or two things.  That is part of why we are good with details and multi-tasking.  We can jump back and forth between the windows very easily and quickly.  We can close windows as we check things off of our to-do list.  It is our goal to close as many windows as possible – too many windows open is very stressful – we can actually crash if we get too overloaded.   And with our verbal skills, we can and do talk about all the windows all at the same time sometimes.

Men don’t think like that.  Shaunti describes that a man’s mind is like a computer that only opens one “window” at a time.  And – they have the ability to close that window and have NOTHING on the screen!?!?  (I have to admit, I am pretty jealous of that ability!)  It’s important for us to acknowledge and appreciate this when we have conversations with our men.  And it is also important to keep in mind that most men do not process emotions verbally the way we usually do.

WHAT THIS MEANS IN CONVERSATION:

Sometimes, we are thinking about a certain issue all day, or a number of issues.  And when our husband walks through the door, we blast him with 10 different things in “rapid fire” succession.    My husband says that a wife may already be to her 8th point, but her husband is still back on #1.  He gets overwhelmed with so many issues and so many words coming at him so quickly.

It’s not that husbands are “slow” or “dumb.”  Not at all!  They can just have one window open at a time – which makes it possible for them to really concentrate on something and not be distracted – that is a great thing for their jobs many times!

My husband can best hear me if I:

  • wait for a time when my husband is rested, in a decent mood and available for me to talk with him whenever possible.
  • only bring up one issue at a time.
  • don’t overload him or flood him with thousands of words – too many words can drown a man and make it really hard for him to decide what to focus on.
  • think “bullet points” not “thesis” or “filibuster.”
  • keep my voice calm and voice and words pleasant (emotionally charged words, especially with negative emotions take men much longer to process – up to 8 hours according to His Brain Her Brain by Dr. Walt Larimore MD.)
  • realize that he may need time to process and decide what he thinks.
  • realize that he doesn’t make decisions quickly like I do, and that is not wrong!  It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care or doesn’t love me or is withholding his answer purposely.  It means he is opening each window and closing it and opening another and thinking and weighing things carefully.

Let’s think of it as if we were throwing balls to our husband.  Each issue is a new ball.  Some people are really talented at juggling many balls – I am not one of those people!  Some people can only handle catching one ball at a time.  That’s me!

Let’s throw him one ball at a time.  And let him catch the ball you threw (and open that window and think about that issue and process it) before throwing another “ball”.

LET YOUR HUSBAND ANSWER FOR HIMSELF

When we have been having imaginary conversations all day long in our minds and assume we know what our husbands are going to say and then we are already angry at them before they even walk in the door for things they haven’t even said – that is really overwhelming and frustrating for our men.   Not to mention – it is disrespectful.

I used to do this A LOT!  My husband says he – and other husbands – appreciate it if we don’t assume we know what they will say and if we will actually give them the chance to answer for themselves.

Let’s focus on

  • praying for God’s wisdom for ourselves and for our husbands.
  • narrowing down what we want to say and boiling it down to the basics so that our husbands can actually hear what is important to us.
  • knowing our own desires and feelings and expressing that.
  • being open to our husband’s unique masculine perspective and wisdom.
  • listening to what God may want to tell us through our husbands.
  • living in TODAY, not in the future.
  • trusting God’s sovereignty to guide us and our husbands.
  • praising God.
  • not arguing or complaining.
  • listening attentively when our husbands do have something to say to us.
  • being present when our husbands speak and stopping our other activity when at all possible.
  • being thankful for all the blessings God has given to us.
  • resting in God’s love and our husbands’ love.
  • generously and joyfully giving our husbands time to think if needed.
  • appreciating the differences between masculinity and femininity.

31 thoughts on “Why the “Rapid Fire” Method of Talking Doesn’t Work with Our Men.

  1. Swedish research found that men are actually better multi-taskers. The reason we think otherwise is because most often we see women multi-tasking. If you think about it though, its the hectic multi-tasking life of a mother that usually stresses them out. If women really were better multi-taskers they wouldn’t get stressed as easily.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2223137/Men-ARE-better-multitasking-women-Swedish-researchers-claim.html

    1. Joseph,
      What approach would you suggest for women to take when they have a long list of problems/issues or negative feelings they want to communicate to their husbands?

      1. It depends. The nature of the problem is more important than the quantity. Guys tend to like big challenges because big challenge means big reward (even if its just a feeling). Tell a guy what the most pressing issues are and let him decide how to handle them. For instance, lets say you are remodeling your house. You need to schedule deliveries, pick out appliances, pick up material, pick out colors, etc. Your husband is probably more interested in deciding what materials to pick up and coming up with a plan for how you are actually going to do the work. The colors of things are probably far from his mind because he would be just as happy painting the whole house white lol.

        I would say come up with a plan on your own for the things you can do. Ask him if its a good plan. It is all a matter of how you approach him. If you approached him with the attitude “listen pal this is the law and you will comply” you are challenging him and he will resist. If you approached him and said “honey I thought about this plan and was wondering what your thoughts were” you are likely to get a different outcome. Most of the time he will probably trust in your judgement unless there is something glaring at him.

        I told my fiance that when it comes to our house I will decide what goes in the walls and how our house is constructed because I want it to be safe and I know how to make that happen. That means she may have to sacrifice some appearance for safety’s sake. On the other hand I said she can do whatever else she wants as long as there is no pink in the common areas. Furniture, her decision. Pictures, her decision. Decor, her decision. Rugs, her decision. Hard wood floors, her decision. Fixtures, her decision. To me I want to show off a safe house and she wants to show off a pretty house. If I decorated the house would look awkward and people would laugh at me. We both win.

        I think the bottom line is prioritize what is important and use your feminine charm. There is no need to be thinking about something trivial when you have non-trivial issues to deal with.

        1. Joseph,

          This is extremely helpful!

          I really appreciate your time and willingness to share your wisdom.

          Would you please allow me to use this in a post?

          Thank you!

          Sent from my iPad

  2. I really needed to read this, today! This is great! It makes a lot of sense, too! My husband always says to quit assuming what’s he going to say, or what he thinks. It really gets to him and now I’m understanding why. I’m in the process of becoming a more godly Christian wife. It’s hard work but I know once I completely trust God and listen to him I will become the wife he intended me to be! 🙂 I really appreciate and am thankful for your blog! It’s VERY encouraging!

  3. I agree with Joseph.Men do multi-task all the time,but it’s done in what they perceive to be an organized fashion,while our wives many seem to be very chaotic.It reminds me of what you had written concerning wives in that when they deal with tasks they attach equal importance to them all. As men I think we look at all the tasks and how they relate to each other and assign priorities.As for the rapid-fire talking,often I’ve found that my wife had something happen that day to cause her to feel so stressed. It might have been the children (we have seven), a friend calling, a bill collector,etc. As a husband much of the flurry I tend to disregard, because I want to get to the root of why she is so stressed.The circumstances while they seem mountainous to her are less important to me than how they are affecting her. I am reminded of the story of the sisters Martha and Mary in the Gospels.Martha was busy serving,while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet.When questioned Jesus said to Martha(quoting as I remember and understood,may not be verbatim),” Martha you are anxious about many things- one thing is needful.Mary has chosen the better portion and it shall not be taken from her.” As a Christian I have found it to be true time and again for men and women when we get stressed we are focusing more on the serving than the one we serve.When I approach my wife and her list with goal of guiding her to an attitude of “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that”, then we can talk things over much calmly, and she’s not as stressed.

    1. Ted,
      I really like the way you explain how you perceive the situation when your wife is giving you a verbal avalanche about her day and the issues that are overwhelming her.

      Would you also allow me to use your comment in a post, please?

      And Joseph and Ted,
      Do you think there is a more accurate way for me to explain to wives how best to approach issues with their husbands?

      Thank you both for your insights and wisdom!

      1. For starters, give your husband the benefit of the doubt. We ARE listening to you but we quickly put aside anything we do not see as a solution to the most pressing problem. I read a study that showed guys DO empathize but we quickly shift from empathy mode to problem solving mode faster than women. That is because we like to take action to solve the problem rather than rehashing it out continually. We want to lift you up out of the stress you are in, not leave you there and have you just tell us how bad it is. That would be cruel! Jesus didn’t sit on a cloud in heaven just listening to us. He didn’t come because we prayed for it first either. He came because that was the solution to our problem and there was no other way. God likely had that plan in place long before the first bite of that wretched apple was taken.

        I think the most important thing for wives to do is sort out needs from wants, know your limits, and trust in your husbands methods even if they seem unorthodox. If you need something done like your car died or could die then that is likely to fall very high on a guys priority list. He probably won’t want to hear about cutting the lawn if he needs to work on your car.

        Also, be patient. There are some things that you cannot do all at once. I cannot fix the car and cut the grass at the same time. Physically that is impossible. I will get to the grass and a gentle reminder if I don’t get to it in a reasonable amount of time should suffice but not the same day I fixed the car.

    1. J,
      Ha!
      Yes! I have definitely been eavesdropping on you!:)

      I live in the south now, but I grew up in the north – and I used to talk REALLY, REALLY fast. When my husband first met me, he couldn’t keep up with the barrage of words sometimes! My parents couldn’t even follow me a lot of times. 🙂 I am better now about keeping things much more brief and to the point instead of explaining my feelings for 2 hours nonstop! I can usually make my point in about 2-4 sentences these days. And my husband hears me much more easily!

      He REALLY appreciates me not making all those negative assumptions anymore and my trust in him now, too.

      Great to hear from you!

  4. I suspect that many women who complain that he talks less and less have overwhelmed him with verbiage and failed to pause long enough for him to thoughtfully reply. I once mistakenly asked “Are you saying something I’m supposed to hear or are you just talking?”

    1. Bob,
      Oops! That may not have gone over well! Maybe, “Do you need me to try to solve this problem or do you just need me to listen right now?”

      I know I didn’t give my husband time to think about his answers years ago. I truly thought he thought just like me and that he would know his answer in 2 seconds like I did. I had no idea he needed time to process and think things over. And even worse, I would impatiently pressure him to give me an answer and get exasperated when it took “too long.”
      He definitely would then shut down, and I had no idea why.

      Sometimes I think we as wives could help our husbands by saying, “Would you please just listen to me right now? I am going to be ok, but I need a chance to share my feelings and feel heard. Your listening would be such a help while I try to process my feelings.”

      Then if we really need solutions, we could say, “I need your advice, please, what do you think I should do about this?” – and give a summary of the situation and problem and carefully consider our husband’s wisdom.

      Thanks for the comment! My husband definitely agreed with your observations!

      1. I agree with the above too. If you need to just talk say so and we will listen. I think any man would feel his wife/gf’s pain and being the man want to eliminate that pain permanently. That is just what God made men to do for women. Talking may make you feel better but if it is a deep seated problem you are only taking a pain killer instead of finding an actual cure.

        A lot of times my fiancee has problems with her girlfriends behavior. I know when she starts talking about them there is no fixing her girlfriends so I just listen and maybe sometimes try to explain their behavior from my perspective.

        Now, if you are continually having bad days at work and almost every night you come home in tears that is a different problem. That is a problem I am more likely to want to give advice to because its more serious than thoughtless girlfriends.

        Again, its about priority. Your suggestion about asking a guy to listen or asking for advice is very good. My fiancee will ask for advice when she needs it. The rest of the time I just assume she wants to talk.

  5. Gentlemen,
    I was reading in Shaunti Feldhahn’s new revised version of For Women Only last night – her new chapter about how men think. I talked with my husband at length about how he thinks through decisions and had my mind blown. So, I am wondering if any of the men might be willing to explain this a bit from their perspectives, too.

    Shaunti’s book is a compilation of surveys of over 1600 Christian men – and quotes from individual men about specific issues.

    She talks about that men have to think through things many times before they can talk about it – specifically really important decisions or about highly emotionally charged issues where a wife has given a lot of negative emotions in a conversation.

    Women tend to verbally process – I know I definitely do. I have words going through my head every second of every waking moment. Past conversations, things I want to write about, words from worship music, words about all the things I need to do during the day, etc. For me to really figure out what I think about something, I write it down or talk about it. Many times, if it is not a super huge issue, I will immediately know what I think.

    My husband is an engineer. He talked with me last night about how he works through problems at home and in relationships using logic – in a similar way to the way he approaches engineering problems. He also said that for men, all the words about emotions seem like unnecessary details that are not needed to “solve the equation.” That he wants to find the real factors and variables and use that to arrive at the solution.

    There have been many times he has thought through something very deeply, and he has many reasons for his decision – but he is not always able to verbalize that. I remember being frustrated with him earlier in our marriage, because I thought he processed just like I do – with words. But last night, for the first time, I began to understand that my husband doesn’t necessarily use words to think through problems and issues at home and in the family.

    One man in Shaunti’s book explained that he has to deeply process all the different variables of an issue, but if he didn’t prepare to talk about it and verbally explain it, he is not prepared to explain why or how he arrived at his decision. He said it is similar to doing a long math problem in his head, so he can’t show his girlfriend the steps. This man said that if he knows ahead of time that he will need to verbally explain something, he can do that, but he has to specifically include that in part of his thinking about how to verbalize his reasoning.

    I wonder – would you agree that you don’t think and process through issues and problems with words?

    I am sure different men may approach problems differently – but I am very interested to hear what different men would say about
    1. needing time to process and think through solutions
    2. whether you use words to process
    3. how you process very emotional feedback/input from your wife/girlfriend
    4. how you verbalize your thought processes

    Thank you for your insights and masculine perspective! We all deeply appreciate your ideas here!

    1. I certainly think through things a lot but the reason I don’t verbalize everything is because once you do people can hold you to it. When you are in a position of leadership or authority (like a President) you have to be careful what you say because it could have dire consequences. Imagine if a pastor or priest thought out loud about everything that came into his head. Some of his thoughts may not be healthy for consumption but his position would give credibility to them. This may be a result of hard wiring or it may me a result of how boys are raised into men.

      I will say this though. In my head I am isolating variables and thinking about them in words. I am just not speaking those words aloud or writing them down.

      1. Joseph,
        My husband echoed this exact sentiment, as well. That is one reason why it is So important for him to carefully think through things.

        It is so fascinating to me… My husband and dad are both engineers, and they (as well as an IT guy i know) describe thinking through some issues and problems visually or without words.

        I only think and process with words as far as I know! And I always have words streaming in my mind.

        That is interesting that different men may process and think in different ways.

        I appreciate your willingness to share.

    2. It does depend on the problem as to what I am thinking. I can imagine an engineer thinking in pictures because if you are building something you have to visualize it. I am a chemist so when I am thinking about molecular structures I am definitely not thinking in words. When I am thinking about theology or philosophy I am thinking in words. I think it is hard to generalize.

  6. I love this, “And – they have the ability to close that window and have NOTHING on the screen!?!? (I have to admit, I am pretty jealous of that ability!)”

    My hubby calls it his ‘nothing box’ – and I’ve told him on more than one occasion that I wish I had one too! I’m looking forward to reading her revised one, the 1st one was so helpful!

    1. In many ways it is God’s gift to men. When contemplating God one must empty their ego and shut their mind off so the subtleness of the Holy Spirit has room to work. He’s not very loud you know 😛

      1. Joseph, I would LOVE to be able to turn off all the noise in my head and be totally silent sometimes. That’s a really neat feature of masculinity. I’m totally jealous!

        Sent from my iPad

      2. Don’t they say silence is divine or something? That is probably why when monks meditate they do so in silence. Never thought of it before.

  7. Very good post :). Sometimes I forget this. Other times i write things down and hand it to him. I’ve actually used bullet points in an email before when our family was in a hard time. I wonder though…what do I do when he says he will think about something and he forgets about it….I mean important issues that constantly get put on the back burner. He will usually apologize but nothing changes and it goes on that way for months. Sometimes it’s issues that are dragging our family down deeper and deeper. I rarely send him email because he doesn’t often check it or respond. But every now and then I’ll send him a parenting article or something that has helped me. He just doesn’t read it and I feel hurt. I just feel like my hands are tied and nothing I say or do and no methods work in certain areas. Sometimes it takes me crying for him to see how important an issue is and I don’t mean manipulative crying…I mean “I’m completely broken” crying. He is such a good man. We just live on different planets and have personalities that are on opposite ends of the scale. It’s frustrating.

    Thanks! ~Amber

    1. Amber,

      I don’t know many specifics about your situation, but I can tell you that my husband didn’t pay much attention to me or all my many words much for a long, long time.

      The key for me to get through to my husband was when I realized that I had been inadvertently disrespecting him for many years. It was only after I stopped all the intentional and unintentional disrespect for a LONG time that my husband began to care about my feelings.

      Once he felt respected and honored, and he knew he was safe with me – that I wasn’t condemning him or trying to change him and sending messages that he was a failure – he began to respond quickly to my desires and feelings.

      This is not a quick fix. But – with men, they MUST feel respected or they are not going to do what you want- even if what you want is a good thing.

      I can’t remember if you have read the posts at the top of my home page about respect and disrespect and biblical submission, but those are great places to start.

      Then check out my Youtube channel “April Cassidy” and watch the video “How to Ask Your Husband for Things so He WANTS to Say Yes.”

      I would recommend listening to his perspective and wisdom. Sending him parenting articls tells him that you think he is not a good dad – I am assuming. So, my recommendation is to focus on repairing any damage that unintentional disrespect may have done to your husband’s soul and marriage and seeking to step down and allow him to take the lead. Sometimes it means you will have to wait – a LOT. Sometimes things won’t get done. But unless he has a mental illness, an addiction, is abusive or there is infidelity going on- if you step down and truly begin to cheer him on and show faith in the good in him – he will eventually become a better leader and a better man. But first, he has to know that you accept him as is and that you are not trying to change him anymore.

      Trust God to change your husband. Ask God to change YOU first! 🙂

      I’m right here if you want to talk about anything!

      Sent from my iPad

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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