Don’t talk so much!
I know that this sounds insensitive and politically incorrect. I know that psychologists and couples counselors such as myself are supposed to push “communication” as the key to a better relationship. AND, I’m here to tell you the truth or at least MY TRUTH.
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This post is specifically for women in heterosexual relationships. While I’ve worked with many gay and lesbian couples over the last twenty years, I’m not sure if this perspective applies to their relationship dynamics. I’d love feedback though.
Back to the premise: Don’t talk so much!
Couples enter counseling with the idea that they need to learn better communication skills. While this is often true and I definitely teach communication skills, COMMUNICATION IS NOT THE PROBLEM!
The problem is NOT about communication. The problem is about CONNECTION! Or more accurately, about the LACK of connection.
In general, women connect by talking. And by “talking” I more specifically mean talking about their feelings and “processing” them. We’re men. We can only “tolerate” so much of that. Talking about our feelings makes us feel young and insecure; it regresses us.
And while regression is good and beneficial in the process of psychotherapy, it’s not so good in a relationship. Wouldn’t you agree ladies?
You DON’T want a regressed man who feels like a helpless child as your partner in a relationship, do you? You don’t want to turn into his mommy! Trust me, it puts a big damper in the romance department and in your sex life.
So women connect through sharing their feelings. This is a big part of why the majority of psychotherapy patients are women. Men don’t want to go there. Do they NEED to go there? Sometimes they absolutely do. And with a professional that they aren’t building a life with, the process works!
And as a couple in couples counseling it also works, at least to a limited degree. Learning to share your inner life in a way that doesn’t become regressive is absolutely a healthy thing. And while I believe in it, most of my work with couples is about creating CONNECTION, which for me isn’t usually about talking or about being talked TO (or AT, which is how it often feels). With connection comes intimacy and passion.
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We’re men. We DON’T want to talk about it! Talking makes us feel weak. Talking makes us feel vulnerable. Talking makes us feel anxious. Talking makes us feel shame. Talking makes us feel “less then”. And when we feel like that, we tend to act out our insecurities in our relationships and take it out on YOU!
Yes, we’re babies! Yes we want it our way in our own time. Yes, if we don’t get our way we will sulk and withdraw and get passive aggressive or just plain attacking and aggressive. For most of us, this reaction is primal and is quite challenging to change.