OK! So how DO we communicate?

That’s what it all boils down to in the end isn’t it!

Men and women communicate in different ways.  All well and good but what if a man is in turmoil, for whatever reason, how do we wonderful women get are darling men to open up and tell us?  That’s what I want to know.  How do we help?

Given that the man’s role – so I understand from Stephen (and I agree with him btw)  – is to care and protect, I presume they feel they are failing if they hit a stumbling block and so can’t actually talk about it as this makes them feel even more of a failure as it voices their fears and vulnerabilities – which isn’t at all ‘manly’.

So, say, for instance, the man has a problem at work, or loses his job, or fails at an interview……  The list is endless…………..

How do we wonderful women, who are feminine and vulnerable and hanging on to our femininity and have no wish to ‘become manly’, how do we get our men to open up and still make them feel Strong and Manly?

In this minefield of communication we need tools.  Not only tools to help us say how we feel when we have problems but tools to help us help our men.

How do we create that safe haven for our men that allows them to say how they feel. Which enables them to communicate their problems without emasculating them?

Because if we know that then we can also create the same ‘safe haven’ for us to communicate back when we have problems.Because our men would recognise this ‘safe place’ and be happy to ‘enter into it’, knowing they were going to be respected and their manliness wouldn’t be in question.

OK they also have to learn about how women communicate but hey  I can’t sort everything out here in one post!!

And don’t tell me it’s the man’s job to ‘create the haven’ – I don’t believe it is!  Women are better at saying how they feel so – in my view (and I could be wrong) it’s our ‘job’ to create this environment where difficult communication can take place ‘safely’.

If we knew and understood that wouldn’t it be just great.

So all I now need is information………

And some views and ideas!

27 thoughts on “OK! So how DO we communicate?

  1. I spend weeks in IC discussing communication, and how the hell it broke down. I have not come to the conclusion that men and woman communicate differently, through.

    My IC made me learn about transactional analysis, which covers some of how people communicate. I chatted about that on my blog. It has it’s uses.

    Mostly, I became aware that people will always place their own filter of experience over any and every transaction that you have, and if their filter is damaged, by FOO issues, then what is communicated is even less. It’s like two people, on holiday, taking pictures of the same scene. The pictures differ slightly, yet neither is “wrong”.

    My cynical conclusion has been that knowing that people don’t communicate effectively is one of the lessons, this horrid journey has taught me and I’ve just had to learn to get used to the idea.

    • I totally agree about the filter based on experience. We all do it. I too have learnt a great deal about that through my LC sessions.

      But there has to be an answer, a ‘place’ or ‘way’ of getting through the fog and for men to feel they can express themselves and be heard without feeling their manliness is in jeopardy – because, for me, that’s what seems to come across. Rather than say how they feel they bottle it up.

      Well bottling it up won’t help one jot. So how do we become the wise women we need to be, and the lovers and princesses, which then gives them their voice.

      • I’m drawn to this post, being in a difficult situation at present myself.

        I don’t know whether it’s because I’m female, or because (being a teacher), my life’s work has been as a communicator, but I find it easy to talk things over with other women. Some men are good at this, but not all. My own husband finds this acutely difficult, which is not good at present. Having been made redundant a few years ago, he bravely decided to retrain for something he’d enjoy, as he had very little job satisfaction, and not even a particularly good salary to compensate. He’s highly intelligent, and I suppose would have counted as someone of immense promise when he was younger. I know he finds it painful to think that he has never lived up to his potential. He is still in the process of completing the course of retraining (an MSc by distance learning), and took a job locally with the council to pay the bills while he was studying. This was just about an ‘average’ salary. He was then offered a one-year contract in the area of his new line of work, and felt he should take the opportunity, even though it meant a pay cut of
        over 30%.

        That post came to an end in August, and he is still unemployed. Money is tight, as I only work part-time, and his age is against him now. He fears that he will never be offered another job in ‘open’ competition (though we both recognise that some jobs advertised are actually ‘phantom’ ones, already promised to someone within the organisation). This means confronting the possibility of having either a portfolio of different kinds of work, temporary or otherwise, or creating his own job. I know this is something that rather terrifies him, and while I can offer suggestions and help, I suspect this isn’t what is needed. He doesn’t like talking about the situation. I don’t like the way things are drifting.

        The hard part is knowing where to draw the line between being ‘helpful’ and ‘nagging’ (as I’m sure he sees it). He feels I regard his presence at home as a nuisance. This is not true, but I’m not yet mentally ready to think in terms of retirement, when we shall both have to re-adjust permanently. This state of limbo is very frustrating – we both feel it shouldn’t become ‘normal’. I’ve tried so hard to draw a distinction between Him The Man, and Him The Worker. If I moan about the lack of progress in the job hunt, I’m not actually criticising him as the person I loved and married. His good points and attractive features are still there, but it hurts ME to see him feeling so down and helpless. I want to help, so that he can get back a sense of self-respect and satisfaction, but suspect that I a) cannot see the wood for the trees sometimes, and b) am too emotionally involved to offer dispassionate support.

        What to do? What to do?

        A friend of mine writes a very powerful blog on Emotional Health. She is called Rita Leaman, and her blog is “How I See It.” She works as a Human Givens Psychotherapist, and has a particular interest in the way that adults often behave like children.

        I’ve also been reading a book called “Time to Think” by Nancy Kline. This is a wonderful method for allowing someone the space, time and dignity to think things through, aloud, for themselves, when they are the sole focus of your concentration.

        Luckily, I have ‘real-life’ friends and online friends who provide very helpful sounding boards, and keep me sane!

  2. I think that’s where Al Turtle’s “art of pulling” and mirroring is supposed to help. Gee I’ve done a lot of Me Work for someone deciding to stay at door number “2” :~P

  3. In my own experiences with relationships and communication with the opposite sex, the simple answer is there is no simple answer. We certainly do communicate in different ways and have different goals for our communication. I’ve found its often best to let them know you support them and want to talk, but let them open up to you on their own.

    • thank you for visiting my blog Sephanie. I agree. It’s just I’m sure there has to be more.

      Having just ‘come through’ my unwanted divorce and also having had various of my readers pose questions on this, I want to help them and I do believe there has to be more than I know already!! I may just be wishful thinking.

      Thank you for contributing to this discussion!

  4. I think one of the big challenges is that we don’t really give ourselves enough time for communication to actually happen. It takes time for this to develop and in the busy lives people lead communication is often expected to fit into the appropriate gaps in schedules. This can make valuable communication difficult. I know that I need time to work up to talking about difficult stuff – I can either make sure I have that time, or if I’m truly honest avoid it by having a busy schedule.

  5. Men will shut down or run if they feel they have enough proof they cannot please their partners. Ask any man what he feels when his partner smiles at him.

    Men today have lost confidence. They don’t know how to please, so help the men understand how important they are and help them through understanding how to please you.

    I will get much resistance on this but this is key, men are condition to please their women it is more important to them than sex.

    Lack of confidence is the problem this is one of the key solutions.

  6. A friend husband, who works away Monday to Friday, lost his job, did not tell his wife and continued to stay away Monday to Friday, he thought he could fix it before she found out.
    He could not and it virtually destroyed him and did destroy his marriage.
    He said he wanted to protect her from the worry and the stress. The marriage fell apart not because of the finances which he had obviously made worse, but due to the total loss of trust on her behalf.

    I do not know how you establish a safe zone, where both parties can communicate openly and without recrimination. As has been said. We all apply a filter to what we say. I am sure many of us have told a ‘white lie’ that we justify on the basis that it is for the others person own benefit.
    Problem is these lies can grow and get away from us, until it feels that they are to big to now be exposed. Sadly it is the lost of trust that becomes the issue, rather than the lie itself.

    We all fear though that like being arrested, what ever we say can be taken down and used in evidence against us. How many times when in an arrangement have you heard the line, “and when we first met, you said….”

    So sorry no answer. But it is all about Trust. This has to be the corner stone of any relationship.

    • A safe zone is created through understanding and never judging. What if a couple agreed to always assume their partners intention was always good. Even if they didn’t understand it.

      You see if you really know for a fact you partner is trying to hurt you. Then get out fast.

      Most behaviours are judged by those not qualified to do so.

      This all comes down to relationship education which sadly very few decide to learn to their cost.

      • Ow, reading this breaks my heart…How many times have I told my partner what he was saying was hurting me, because it did, but I guess his intention wasn’t to hurt?…I know it made him feel awful and caused rifts between us.
        It makes me feel like I have a responsibility on his deserting our relationship, and this hurts. Badly.
        But may it be a useful lesson for the future…

  7. Facing the fact that I too had a responsibility in Alex deserting has been a very tough thing to take on board. But I know I did and yes it hurts – massively. But as you say a lesson for the future. And the future is what we both do have!

    Hugs to you Lady E

  8. Dear Caroline and Lady E

    There is one key point that is critical in todays discussion, this is what makes the difference in my session when building trust through communication.

    The fact is men and women are built so differently. The way they think, behave and communicate is totally different. This is not by chance, evolution has played a big part in why the sexes are so different.

    So the way we work in relationships is not equal, this goes against what society teaches. Men and women are different, we all know it really, but ignore it because most don’t understand it or know why.

    If we try to be the same the attraction goes and so does the intimacy.

    So when a female goes to pain within her in an argument and this is different to a heated debate or a fun conversation. The mans job in this place of pain for her is to look after her and love her.

    If the man in this moment creates more pain in her he is failing her. This happens because at the point she goes to pain (which can be displayed by her shouting at him or trying to hurt him with words all designed to wake him up to her pain) and he displays fearful responses such as shutting down, running, defending, shouting etc he has failed her.

    In this moment she is in emotional pain, she feels it so deeply and he, instead of looking after her by loving her which is what she really wants and needs, he gets offended by her words of anger and makes her pain about him.

    This makes her 10 times worse inside so she, in this moment will either esculate the argument or shut down herself.

    All the time the man is not protecting her, she has no choice, she has to use her masucline energy to protect herself from him.

    This disconnects her from her true feminine self. This means she is now the protector of her. She now has his job, so now what is the point of him?

    She may still love him, but she will see him either as weaker or a bully. Neither is attractive…this affects their intimacy especially if this is the pattern in their relationship.

    When a woman is screaming/arguing/fighting/saying hurtful words at her man what she is trying to do is wake him up to her pain, she wants him to understand the pain she is in so he gets it. Of course he never does.

    I teach men in sessions how to get this and how to protect her in this moment, because when he does look after her in the way she wants everything changes.

    If the man is emotionally weak he will usually fight me on how hurtful her words are to him. I have to help him understand that her words are not the real message and his focus has to be on her pain and helping her.

    Her pain can also be displayed in silence this is the most dangerous state, this is because she is giving up on him, and is waiting for him to come to her. The problem is he hears calm and quiet and he thinks everything is OK and so he never comes.

    In that place of no sound the relationship slowly dies…

    Ignore the difference between the sexes and the roles nature designed us to be and problems will never be far away.

    A couples attraction is based on differences, it is important to understand these core differences and how they work. Relationship Education is the key.

    This goes against all parents and society teaches us so this is always a hot topic.

    But think on this, if society is so right why is the divorce rate so high and why do so many children have to live without their fathers?

    Using this understanding has helped me save many families from the pain of break up when they thought all was lost.

    Some in just one session.

    The children get to keep mum and dad and best of all, those children learn from their parents the truth of how relationships work.

  9. Thank you Stephen for that BUT and it still is a big BUT. How are we (women) supposed to react to our men when they wobble. When they know within themselves something isn’t right. Yes I totally get it that if they understand and help us through our pain and so don’t react to our anger and hurt but give us love then communication works well.

    How do we help them un-bottle? I still feel as if I’m mising something – a piece of the jigsaw(!). Because if we’re not careful we can turn into ‘mother’ mode and then that stops us being seen as the wife, partner and lover. Yet if a man is in turmoil for whatever reason and feels by voicing his angst he is failing his woman in his desire to Please, protect and care for her then communication breaks down.

    I’m not putting this very well!!!!

      • That helps.

        And Ouch(!) thought that’s what I did. But maybe I didn’t. But history is history so thank you for all your comments because maybe others will be luckier than I’ve been and armed with more knowledge will not go down the path I found myself on, and that will be great.

  10. OMG

    I wish I had understood and known, long ago, all of what Stephen wrote. That tracks exactly what happened. She would get angry, scream and shout and say really horrible things.
    I would just react and start doing the same back again.

    If a man attacked me either physically or verbally that would be the approach I would take.

    I never realised or understood, that the best approach would have been to calmly let her have her rant and to let the words wash over me and support her.

    Sadly to late for this relationship. But I will try and remember them if I ever get another chance.

  11. Lost in France and Caroline,
    It’s a bitter sweet feeling to realise where you’ve gone, but also that it will not bring back your husband/wife, isn’t it?
    I’m deep into regert for the chance we didn’t get for now…

  12. Personally I think Stephen is tarring everyone with the same brush. These are his observations, based on his filter, and they may very well apply a good portion of the time, but I don’t see how they can be applied to everyone and every situation.

    More than that, I don’t think loss of communication can be blamed for all breakups. most certainly I have witnessed breakups that had more to do with one person’s bad coping skills and resulting personal crisis and had zero to do with communication.

    I cannot see how, “shut down and run”, will make someone suddenly turn into a 14 yo teenager complete with uncontrolled spending and sudden change of how they speak.

    A loss of the feeling of safety will also cause a woman to run from a relationship, but in something as long term as a marriage a mature adult will actually attempt some form of communication before running. “I love you” and affection followed two weeks later by, I’ve been unhappy most of our marriage, is not a communication problem!!!

    More than that, I cannot see myself wanting a whiney man, who can’t own his own feelings and who conflict avoids to keep the peace. That falls under “Nice Guy Syndrome”, which is a whole topic on it’s own and again does not encompass every man.

    We are also ignoring all of the other personality issues, such as co-dependance that will kill a relationship regardless of how well communication occurred.

    It’s horrid how those of us abandoned and betrayed, suddenly, try to attach logic to it and often blame ourselves. Communication being an easy target for that blame.

    Sure, learn about it, it’s great to work on oneself, but don’t think that fixing it or fixing your knowledge and relationship skills are a foolproof way of keeping a long term relationship going.

    We have zero way of knowing how much it had to do with the past so regret is just self punishment.

    • Dear Coralf

      We can see how troubled you are from your words, but I’m sure you are open to other ways of thinking though, especially from those that have saved many families from the horrific pain of break up. For me it is so wonderful to hear how happy not only the parents are after my sessions, but how delighted the children are when they hear that mummy and daddy are going to stay together.

      This is for me what makes what I do so worth while…

      You see my filter is the daily proof of saving so many couples and their children.

      This is my filter for my words, what is your filter for yours?

  13. Hi Stephan,

    I am open to other ways of thinking. I am less open to thinking that they are the only truth or that they universally apply.

    If there was one single truth, I’m sure many of us would be cottoning on to that and spreading the news. I am very happy for the people who have found comfort and recovery in your approach.

    While it is so healthy for many of us to adjust our behaviour and examine our faults, it becomes very heart breaking to watch how harsh victims of adultery and broken marriages are on themselves, especially when the marriage is no longer on the table.

    This appears to be particularly clear in all three comments prior to mine.

    • Maybe a good quest for you would be to discover if what you think is true.

      You never did help us to understand your filter and how it was created.

      Explaining this filter would be valuable to all those reading your words.

  14. While it is so healthy for many of us to adjust our behaviour and examine our faults, it becomes very heart breaking to watch how harsh victims of adultery and broken marriages are on themselves, especially when the marriage is no longer on the table.

    This appears to be particularly clear in all three comments prior to mine.

    I don’t think I’m being harsh on myself. Just realistic and honest that I had a part to play in the collapse of our marriage. I don’t however, feel I am in any way responsible for him committing adultery. That was his choice.

  15. Long term relationship difficulties?
    At Pioneer Productions (www.pioneertv.com) we are making a new 3 part documentary about love and relationships for the BBC.

    Episode 3 will look at longer term relationships and the issues surrounding them. We are hoping to speak with couples who are experiencing difficulties in their long term relationship and might like to share their experiences of making things work. If you are in such a situation, or know someone that is, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

    If you’d like to know more about what’s involved, please contact me, Sam Mortimore:

    Office: 0208 748 0888 ext. 232
    Mobile: 07731 748 246

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