Miscommunication starts when one partner is convinced to have explicitly or implicitly asked for something and the other did not get the message.
Women in particular are so used to guess all day long the needs of the ones around them that they tend to ask their male partner to guess as well. Men are not programmed to guess and they don’t like to guess. And they feel rightly so that it is too much asking to expect help without asking for it properly.
The irony is that when women expose their problems to their male partner without asking for a solution, they usually jump in to provide one. In this case the anxiety triggered by the expressed stress of their wife starts men’s own coping mechanism: talking is not stress relieving for men and they will do anything they can to end that talk when they feel tension, robbing the stress relieving process that talking can be for their wife. I describe in length this process in my book.
In casual situation when stress is not yet triggered, women won’t be precise in expressing what they want either because they are not sure yet, or because they expect anticipation from their partner.
Picture this: she has not stopped one minute since she is back home. She has helped with the children’s homework, laundry, you name it; she started dinner and was interrupted. And she will throw to her husband : “Honey, can you help?” He is tired from his day as well so he does not jump to his feet ready to go. Instead, he says ” Sure, what do you need me to do?” This simple question genuinely asked will trigger some kind of aggressive answer that will puzzle him.
Him: “What on earth did I do wrong?”
Her: “He does this on purpose!”
Reality is this:
1. He has a different perspective and could not care less about the laundry at this time. He is doing what relaxes him. He does not understand why you waste so much energy in so many details. He would certainly do things differently. He does not want any problems with her so he does not say anything.
2. The minute she comes home she sees all the things left to be done and she feels the need to attend to them all. It does not come to her mind that he may not see the same things, that he may see them but he does not care because his priority is to restore his energy.
In the heat of the moment it will be a lose lose situation: he will do what she asks without any enthusiasm because he perceives her frustration; she won’t be happy because when she asked for help she was already exhausted and she is angry at him for not perceiving it and offering help.
Solution: Write down the help you need precisely. Once it is clear for you what help you partner can provide you with, share it with your partner and listen to his or her ideas.
The most efficient way to handle touchy and/or boring conversations is via email.
You can send a nice email such as:
“Hey Honey, I hope your day is going well. When you come home tonight, can you please do such and such? it would really help me a lot. Thank you so much”