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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

.Trying to Get His Attention.

This week's question comes from a reader. She was very interested in the man's persepective on her question, so I decided to leave this one all up to Jim and hand this week's question over to him.


How do I get my husband's undivided attention for a serious conversation?

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” ~Albert Einstein


This question seems as though it is much simpler to write than to actually accomplish sometimes. I know I could write a whole bunch of axioms, but I am guessing if you are asking this question, you probably have tried the general principles already.

So, let me start here: men and women were created very differently. The way we think, the way we reason, is vastly different. Women’s brains are like a bowl of cooked spaghetti. When you look at it you know that there are lots of strands of spaghetti, but the idea that you could see where one strand begins and another ends is ludicrous.

A women’s mind connects all dots. So, the fact that a man walks in the door, says “I love you” and throws his coat on the floor is a way of saying “I love you as my maid.”

 Men, on the other hand, separate everything into boxes. There is a box for food, a box for work, a box for wife, a box for kids, a box for hanging up coats, and of course, a box for nothing (a favorite of men.) So, when a man walks into the house says “I love you” and throws his coat on the floor, it is first a statement of his undying love for his spouse, and second a disconnected display of his desire to see his coat hanging. One is not a statement of the other-just two things that happen in close timing with one another.

Now-before the debate rages as to which way is right or wrong, let’s recognize the difference between men and women. I agree in the above account the man must be more sensitive, but I also know that the woman must see that while her husband is being a slob, he is not saying she is his servant.

Okay, before this digresses too far, let’s get back to the issue at hand:
How do I get my husband's undivided attention for a serious conversation?

I believe the most effective way to accomplish what you are trying to do here is to get your man’s undivided attention. You must make sure he is not in his illusive “nothing” box, or thinking about the awesome meal you just cooked. I thought about saying you should approach him in the nude… but that leads to a box that is particularly hard to get him out of. Seriously, make sure you have his attention, and ask when a good time to talk would be. Do not settle for a vague answer. Set something in stone and make sure you stick to it. If you have young children, maybe after everyone is to bed and you have had a few minutes to collect yourselves.

Once you have established what men refer to as a “meeting,” you now are in business. Your man should be aware that you are engaging in conversation and that there is an agenda. Don’t go overboard and go writing an agenda, but do think like a meeting with an agenda. You must know what you want out of this conversation… because if you just want to have a “serious conversation” with no objectives, you are as likely to get a talk about whether circus peanuts are good (I vote yes), or several suggestions from your husband that this meeting may go better upstairs. You will be frustrated and he will be confused. When I enter a meeting, in any setting, with no agenda the meeting immediately derails.

Now, back to the spaghetti and boxes thing. You have to speak your man’s language. If you want to talk about the problems in your marriage and you sight “that you treat me like your maid” and “that all I am to you is an object for sex” almost all men will have no idea what you mean. I know that is frustrating… BUT, if you want to be productive, you must give us all the connecting dots.

For example: “When you walk in the room and throw your coat on the floor, that tells me more about how you feel about me than the words ‘I love you’. The home is my responsibility and I take it seriously, and it is as if you walk in and don’t care. Then, when you sit down without helping me get the kids or the food to the table, I feel like you don’t understand the pressure I face every day, and that I need help. Then, right after diner, when you don’t clean up and turn on the TV ‘til bedtime I feel even more like you don’t care about me. That’s why when you come to bed and want to ‘snuggle’ I don’t feel like it. Because I am tired yes, but more so, I don’t feel like you care. Thank you for saying ‘I love you’, it is something. I am just needing help to go with the verbal affirmation.”

Now, in your man’s mind is the thought, “Oh crap, how do I fix this.” This is a man’s problem that is hard for you to understand, and I get that. However, you will find that he will begin to make absurd promises, that if you believe, you will be heartbroken. Why? Because he loves you and really does want to fix the problem. However, he has little perspective on just how to do that. Here’s how you can help with that.

“Honey, I am not looking for you to have all the answers to this tonight. Can you think on it, and maybe we can talk tomorrow about some things we can do better?” (As I write that it sounds super condescending… don’t be condescending, that is annoying. The idea is to give him time to mull it over without the pressure to have answer or make a promise he won’t be able to keep.)

Finally, when he does make an effort, praise him like crazy!! (Maybe some of that aforementioned “cuddling”)

Now, this example is addressing a problem, but the same thing rings true when talking about other non-problem issues. You must establish a time to talk about the issue, clearly articulate your perspective, and give him space to think. If it is complex-like “should we adopt?” It may take a little while… I remember when Tiffany dropped that bomb on me. You know what my initial response was: “Ummm, sure babe, I would consider going to Ethiopia. Yeah, Lucy is cute.” (In my head: What is going on??? Is this woman crazy??? {NOTHING BOX, NOTHING BOX}.)

Hope this was at least a little helpful.


How about you? How do you get your husband's attention for a serious conversation?

Thanks for all of the great questions and input that have been emailed and given to us! If you have a marriage topic or question that you would like featured on a Wedded Wednesday post, then please feel free to leave a comment or email me at amomentcherished(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a message on the blog's facebook page.


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