Ever spend five minutes talking to your husband only to find out he's completely tuned you out? Pretty frustrating, right?
I can't tell you how many nights I would fume at Rex pouring through bills when all I wanted to do was have some adult contact after ten hours straight with two toddlers. It's not like I wanted to discuss the year's most anticipated book reads, one woman's transformation from atheist to Catholic, or the pros and cons of a gluten free/dairy free in treating ADHD.
Well, actually could discuss all those things to no end, but not the first ten minutes. I could have waited at least eleven for those. But some conversation? Yeah! I had limits to how much my friends could fulfill me. I wanted the handsome and intelligent man I married to connect with me! Maybe you're the same?
And yet, put yourself in your man's shoes. If he's just gotten home from a stressed out day in the office, chances are he isn't ready to absorb ten ways from Tuesday how the baby is constipated, your office mate is actually the devil in bad Payless pumps, and you still haven't heard back from the dentist about getting your tooth filled.
Am I saying that your needs aren't important? Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, I think a woman's need for communication is so strong that she deserves to be heard 100%. This is precisely why, in my case, bending Rex's ear the moment he walks in the door is the worst time to accomplish this.
Here are five things I do to make sure I'm heard by Rex. They aren't the fairy tale scene of a man dropping his briefcase the moment I utter two words from my lips, but these strategies keep me from getting angry and feeling unimportant. It's also allowed me to bury my resentment and move forward with a rich and rewarding life that adds to our marriage:
1. 30 Minute No Talking Rule: Give him thirty minutes to unwind before engaging him in conversation. It's not that big of a deal. He gets a chance to change out of work clothes and suddenly he's ready to talk. If you have a husband who is Mr. Chatty the moment he comes home, all power to you. That is awesome! I just don't have one. I've accepted that. Whatever your pain point is - the time when you feel you're not being heard - rethink a new strategy. Chances are that your mate wants to hear you, just not at that moment. Not ideal, but we're grownups, and that's fair.
2. Kids in Bed: Get the kids on a bedtime schedule. My kids are upstairs by 7 or they don't get their cherished book read. This might sound harsh, but it actually gives me far more patience toward the end of the day when they start to melt down. Most importantly, it keeps me from melting down the moment Rex enters the door because I know there's an end in site.
3. Electronics Off: Turn off the computer/tv/whatever your fetish of fancy is by a certain time every night. For us it's around 8:30. It gives us a chance to chat in the living room before making the trek upstairs. Usually we catch up on work, friends, kids and basic day-to-day of life. It's not as exciting as my list above, but that's what #4 is all about.
4. Date Night: This is a clich item, but so important. It gives Rex and me a chance to talk about our dreams, not just who takes out the trash, who pays what bill, and what exactly got stuck in our son's ear last Tuesday. (Corn on the cob piece. Who knew?)
5. Lower Your Expectations: The person I most want validation from is Rex. Unfortunately, with alternating schedules and very different job descriptions, this isn't always going to happen. Oh, sure, he tells me how much he loves me every day, but he's not going to jump up and down when I tell him about an awesome rice flour muffin I discovered at Whole Foods that morning. I've got girlfriends for that stuff. I've got my mom. I've got teachers and books and...hmmm... who's that one person who is starting to become the friend who always stands by me? Oh yeah - me!
By making tiny switches in the way I've communicated with Rex, I've eased so much tension. I feel closer to him than I've felt in a very long time. It took work, some trial and error, some tears and maybe a few screaming matches (just a few) but I've rediscovered that person who I married all those years ago. (him AND me.)
What about you? Do you communicate well with your spouse? If not, what would you like to change?
Have something to say? Leave a comment or write me at Andrea@Goodhousekeeping.com. Would love to hear from you!
* Woman listening print found here
Posted by Andrea Frazer
Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.