What makes for a good marriage? Is it having similar goals? Being in love? Joint beliefs on raising children?
Yes, yes to all of these things. And, it also includes friendship.
“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
How many of us wished our spouses were more like our best friends? We long for those long talks, laughter and tears we share with our girlfriends. However, with that being said, apparently most men are not into vast amounts of communication. Seems they are more of the doers than the listeners in any given relationship:
Dr Robert Leahy, discusses various reasons why men (on average) seem to find listening as a skill best left to the wayside:
The Seven Reasons Men Don’t Listen
- It’s a Power Struggle. Some men view intimate relationships as a win-lose game. If the woman is venting her feelings, then she is winning and the man is losing. As a result these men may try to dominate and control the woman, telling her that she is illogical, out of control or just a pain to deal with. One man says, “You want us to be doormats.”
Many men describe their interactions in terms of “sarcastic” comments — put-downs, contempt, criticism and condescension. For example, some men respond with, “It must be that time of the month” or “Get me a beer” or other problematic and self-defeating comments. They think that sarcasm will get the woman to either shut up or help her see that she is being ridiculous. She gets the message that he not only doesn’t care — but that he is the last person to ask for support. He thinks he’s clever and funny — and she thinks he just doesn’t get it.
- Macho Thinking
A number of men comment that to validate or to use emotional language to support the woman is unmanly. “You are trying to make us into wusses,” a number of men say. They believe that the role of the man is to be strong, above it, domineering. Validating and allowing emotional ventilation is for feminized men, men who have lost their dignity as “real men.” The women may think that some of the macho confidence is appealing, until it leads them to feel that the only emotion they can get from him is his anger.
- Emotional Dysregulation
Some men find it so upsetting, so emotionally arousing to listen to their partners that they feel they have to ventilate their anger or withdraw. In fact, this is supported by the research that shows that their pulse-rates escalate during conflict and they find this unbearable. As a result of their own escalating emotion — which they can’t tolerate — they either try to get her to shut up — or they leave the room. She feels controlled, marginalized and abandoned.
- Not Wanting to Reinforce Whining
This is another reason that men give for not supporting or encouraging expression. They believe that validating and making time and space for their partner’s expression will reinforce complaining which, in turn, will go on indefinitely. So they want to stop it immediately by using sarcasm, control or stonewalling. She feels that he won’t let her talk, that he is cold, aloof, hostile. So she goes somewhere else to get that support — another woman friend — or another man.
- Demand for Rationality
Some men believe that their partner should always be rational and that irrationality cannot be tolerated. Their response to their partner’s apparent irrationality is to point out every error in her thinking, dismiss her, become sarcastic or withdraw. This demand for rationality or “the facts” might sound “mature” but I have yet to hear someone say that they have a great sex life because they have the facts on their side. Communication is often more about soothing, grooming, connecting — less about simply giving you the information and being logical.
- Problems Have to Be Solved
These men think that the main reason for communication is to share facts that then can be used for problem-solving. They think that venting and sharing feelings gets you nowhere and that if their partner is not willing to initiate problem-solving then she is being self-indulgent and wasting everyone’s time and energy. When he jumps in with problem-solving, she either escalates the emotion which she believes is not heard, or she withdraws.
Women, (on average) need to be heard and when we feel like our problems are being pushed aside it tends to escalate the problem. (More so than what needs to be)….
In the end couples need to hash out what their listening/coping styles are. Communication, not just love, is the central background of any strong relationship.