I feel like my husband is a total avoider. When we get into an argument, all he wants to do is ignore the situation and escape to the TV room. He doesn’t care that we need to talk it through. What can I do to get him to talk to me?
— Wanting more words
Dear Wanting more words,
Boy, can I feel your pain! In fact, in the research I’ve done with thousands of men and women, I know that most women can feel your pain! Getting everything out on the table and resolved right now makes total sense, right? Right…to everyone, that is, but most men. I’m guessing that it’s not that your husband doesn’t want to communicate, but that he needs to go about it very differently.
If you are like most women, you are a verbal processor and think something through by talking it through. And with lots of connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, you can talk and think about many thoughts and feelings at the same time.
But most men (perhaps including yours!) are internal processors. In most cases, it is actively difficult for a guy to think something through by talking it through. His brain is wired to process one thing at a time, going deep within each one, as he tries to figure out what he’s thinking and feeling – and what you are thinking and feeling. Pressing him to talk before he’s had a chance to process all that makes it harder for him to think things through. If lots of emotions are swirling around, he’ll struggle even more. I am guessing that when he “escapes” to the TV room it isn’t really to “ignore” the situation but to get space to process it.
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and her newest, The Good News About Marriage. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.