Welcome to the one way conversation club. Though plenty of men turn somersaults to get conversational action going with their mates, more often women end up exasperated with silent partners. It’s not that women bore men – watch a man salivate over her every syllable on a long-awaited first date. Rather, whereas women tend to need a daily dose of conversational closeness, men value just being together and doing things together, even mundane activities like eating quietly side by side. For guys, verbal interaction is one part, and not necessarily the most important part, of the whole relationship picture. This frustrates women who judge closeness by the number of words exchanged per evening. If wives and girlfriends had their druthers, the time couples spend in conversation would surely rise from its measly weekly average of nineteen – yes, nineteen – minutes.
To defuse conversational frustration –
- Don’t let it get to you. In a fundamentally sound relationship, conversational reluctance doesn’t mean rejection. Recognize that for you, conversation is a form of coupling, while for him talk may be just words.
- Stop taking the initiative in verbal interactions. Change your conversational patterns and watch what happens. If you’re generally the driving force for dinner talk, try holding back. There’s a fifty-fifty chance that silence will stimulate your taciturn partner’s vocal cords. Maura seemed to stump husband Cal with the question, “How was your day?” which she asked every night like clockwork while they were lounging around before dinner. Three days into Maura’s assignment of not prompting conversation, Cal did a surprising thing. He said, “Don’t you care about how my day went?” Managing to restrain her eagerness to hear, Maura responded casually, “Oh yes, how was it?” He talked about ten times longer than his usual “All right” or “Nothing special.”
- Bring up the subject of your conversational needs. When both you and he are in a decent mood, be direct without blaming. Let your partner know what’s important to you. “I know you like a lot of quiet. I need to talk everyday to touch base and feel close.”
- Once you have discussed your different needs, explore some middle ground. For example, set up a regular talking time. Nothing formal, just a time like dinner or before bedtime that you agree to devote to catching up with each other for five or ten minutes. You’ll know the connecting time is coming, and he’ll know it will end at some point. Not conversational heaven but a good couples compromise.
- Don’t be conversationally monogamous . Having other people in your life to chat with besides your mate lessens the pressure on both of you. When Maura came home dying to complain about her boss and found Cal engulfed into a video game, she learned to call up her chum Kathryn instead.
- If all else fails, talk to yourself. Self-gratification can be a great tension release.