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.