Why doesn’t he talk to me? Why won’t he do the dishes? Is he cheating? The differences between men and women can be troublesome. The source of most conflict in relationships can usually be traced back to miscommunication. By looking at the differences between men and women, the role of body language in interaction and your own behavior, you can better understand the man in your life.
Consider the differences between the way men and women communicate. In her book “You Just Don’t Understand,” linguistic expert Deborah Tannen, Ph.D., states that men use language to show status while women use it to show connection. These differences surface at a young age and continue throughout our lifetime. A man who says he’s sorry, stops to ask for directions or gives in to his girlfriend or wife’s nagging is putting himself in a lower status position, which is why he avoids these situations.
Don’t interpret silence as a problem. Since women use language to develop a connection with people, it can be frustrating when your man answers the question, “How was your day?” with a simple, “Okay.” Most likely, he isn’t hiding anything. He just doesn’t use language the same way you do.
Pay attention to his body language. Studies by Albert Mehrabian and Ray Birdwhistell indicate that 65 percent of communication in a conversation occurs nonverbally. People want to say the right thing, but often have a difficult time suppressing their nonverbal expression. So, if he’s sending mixed messages, focus more on what he does rather than what he says. For example, your man might not say “I love you” frequently because he tells you in other ways.
Be conscious of your behavior. Aside from your looks and personality, other factors play a part in your man’s attraction to you. Showing that you appreciate someone through reinforcement and rewards is just as important as physical attraction, similarity and living in close proximity to each other. Oprah touched on this when she aired a segment on her show called “Why Men Cheat.” She interviewed marriage counselor M. Gary Neuman, who cited lack of appreciation at home as the biggest reason for infidelity.
Be more direct. Tannen offers a classic example in her book about a woman who wants to stop for a drink during a car ride. She opens the conversation by asking her husband if he’s thirsty and wants to stop for a drink (trying to establish a connection by checking how he feels about stopping). He was not thirsty so he tells her no. Later she gets angry because she wanted to stop and feels he didn’t consider her feelings in the matter. He doesn’t understand why she didn’t just tell him what she wanted. To avoid a situation like this, be open about your feelings rather than hope he picks up on your hints. Chances are he cares, but is having a difficult time understanding you.