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“Can We Talk?” Eight Things to Know When Talking to a Man You Love by Tisha Smith, MA, LPCMH

Steven nestled himself into bed after a long, stressful day. He had a lot on his mind with work and the possible downsizing at his company. His wife Barbara lay pensive and silent next to him. He could hear her soft breathing and a familiar sigh. Steven knew what was coming next. He tried to feign sleep but he knew this charade was merely postponing the inevitable.

It would come.

Just wait.

Another sigh from Barbara. AND…

There it is…

”Steven, can we talk?”

“ UGH!!”, Steven whispered under his breath.

Barbara had a lot on her mind. The kids were crazy today and she had a disagreement with her sister that was really bothering her. Lately, she had felt distant from Steven and wondered if he still loved her. She wanted to tell him about her day. She wanted to feel connected to him. He hadn’t told her he loved her in what felt like a very long time.

How do you imagine this scenario may have played out? Perhaps it feels familiar? Have you ever felt your man pull away when you try to initiate conversation the way Barbara did? There are some interesting reasons why he may pull away when you want to talk the most.

  1. It is hard for a man when a woman demands that HE talk. She unknowingly turns him off by asking direct questions, especially when he does not feel the need to talk. She forgets that a man does not NEED to talk to feel connected. The more a woman tries to get a man to talk the more he will resist.
  2. When a woman wants to talk or feel close, she should be the first to share, even if her partner has little to say.
  3. She MUST appreciate him for listening. The interaction may even start by saying, “Will you listen to me talk for just a while? You don’t have to say anything.”
  4. A man may be very open to having a conversation with a woman, but at first have nothing to say. What women don’t understand is that men need a reason to talk. They don’t talk just for the sake of sharing, but when a woman talks for a while, a man may start to open up and share how he relates to what she says.
  5. If a woman talks about her feelings about the kids or her argument with her sister and a man does not feel blamed or pressured, he will begin to open up.
  6. Do keep in mind that a man cannot easily leave a problem unsolved and will have a tendency to offer suggestions for ways to fix the problem rather than just processing the problem without a fix. Unfortunately, this often leaves the woman feeling unheard and her feelings and problems unacknowledged. Generally, women need one thing from a conversation from her man and that is acknowledgement of the feelings she is experiencing. Acknowledging your feelings is not intuitive for a man. This is a skill you must teach him over time.
  7. Never assume a man knows what he is supposed to say or do in conversation no matter how many times you have told him. It is ok and a good idea to tell him what you need from him as you talk. This may sound like: “Steven, I just want you to listen; you don’t need to say a word,” or “I don’t need a solution to this issue; I just want you to listen and acknowledge how I feel,” or “I want you to tell me everything will be ok and that you love me.”
  8. Just because you have to tell him what to say does not mean he doesn’t mean it or care about what you are saying.

So what happened with Steven and Barbara you ask? Nothing!!

Barbara decided on her own that Steven’s “ugh” was a signal he was too tired to talk or listen. She decided she didn’t need to feel hurt or rejected because he seemed unavailable; after all she knew bedtime was not the greatest.

She said, “ Steven, I have so much I want to share with you tomorrow, the kids, and my sister and stuff about us, but…It’s ok, we can talk tomorrow.”

Steven silently felt grateful and he loved Barbara so much for understanding him. He held her tight and kissed her lovingly good night, never saying a word.


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