Mental health update – Too Strong and Too Silent

It is becoming increasingly common for men – often in our regional centres – to be faced with separation from their spouse or partner, without seeing the tell-tale signs of the imploding relationship, leaving them dumbfounded and struggling to make sense of what just happened.

Today, women are more likely to be career-oriented, more independent financially, more educated and more empowered. Divorce no longer carries the stigma it once did, and rightfully women are no longer as accepting of abuse, or not having their needs met.

Given this societal change, there is an even greater need now for effective communication in relationships.

Getting men to talk more is slowly changing, however, too often many men remain stoic and un-communicative about how their relationship is going. They bunker down and remain Too Strong and Too Silent.

Relationships breakdown for many reasons, including emotional disconnection, differing views on finances, too much work, not enough time with the family, stonewalling, lack of respect, or not being appreciated, to name just a few.

If we don’t communicate what is going on within us, we are not resolving our issues, and are inadvertently setting up our relationships to fail.

A common quote is ‘I tried, but he just never listens’, or ‘I work hard every day, dawn to dusk to provide, I thought I was doing the right thing’.

If we talk about things as they arise, resolution is more likely. Men tend to be too silent, but again women can be bad at communicating as well.

I often hear comments like ‘if only she had said something’, or ‘I didn’t know’. Chances are maybe we were told, or didn’t want to deal with it, or simply didn’t listen. We need to learn to communicate more, and listening to our spouse is paramount.

Here are four tips to improve listening skills:

  1. Body language: We may say we’re listening to our spouse, but the body language says otherwise. Body language accounts for 93 per cent of communication. Face each other, look into our spouse’s eyes. Be cautious about our pose, things like being fidgety or folding your arms, tends to give a message of disinterest.
  1. Ask questions: Asking questions shows that we are interested, and heard what was said i.e. ‘so, then what happened?’ or paraphrase ‘so what you’re saying is…’
  1. Avoid one-upmanship: Listen to the bad day story, without jumping in with your worse bad day. Instead, ask questions, listen and show interest. Otherwise the message our spouse gets is we don’t really care.
  1. Don’t try and fix it: This is a vital thing to remember for blokes. Men will often offer a solution to the problem and try to fix it. We just need to listen and be engaged. Women prefer that blokes don’t jump in with their best solution unless asked. Good effective communication is essential for a healthy relationship, don’t be too strong and too silent.

As always, remember…before it all gets too much…Talk to a Mate®!!

You can find more tips here.