Let me set the scene.
Your lovely Baha’i husband is in the living room on his phone- googling/checking his email/watching ridiculous videos on facebook and you want to talk to him about something.
And that ‘something’ is housework.
You’ve been thinking about this for while. You’ve tried to bring it up in the past but it always ends in a fight with you complaining and him shutting down.
But the issue isn’t resolved for you yet. You feel like you’re the only one who picks up the dirty dishes abandoned around the house and thinks about the grime that’s accumulating around the bathtub.
Just thinking about it makes you mad. ARGH!
But this time you want to try a different approach with your husband. Because you know he is a good guy and is generally willing to help you out. (I know, I know… you don’t want him to ‘help’ with housework because it’s not only your responsibility- just hang in here with me)
Let’s all collectively take a deep breath because I think us women need to understand one thing very, very clearly.
Your Baha’i husband wants to make you happy.
Let this sink in because it most likely doesn’t seem obvious to you at this point. You might think, “Well, if he wanted to make me happy he would jump up to do the dishes every night” or “Ya, right. All he wants is to get in my pants…”
If you don’t believe me, go ask him right now.
And when you aren’t happy with them or they have NO CLUE how to make you happy or no matter what they seem to try, you are never happy, it can feel like a big fat failure.
So when you approach them with, “We need to talk”, you could very likely be saying, “You’ve failed again buddy.”
Do you see how important it is for us to realize this? Because it changes the game entirely. They need way more appreciation and praise than they ever let on.
Phycologist Shawn T. Smith sent out anonymous surveys in order to understand the male experience in preparation to write his brilliant book, “The Woman’s Guide to how Men Think” and one guy wrote this:
“We want all the cards on the table so we can deal with the issue at hand and make you happy again. When you’re upset, we’re upset, no matter how much we try to hide it.”
So make sure you appreciate your husband as much as possible and he will be in a way better position to listen to you.
In the housework scenario, the best way to start off the conversation is with something he is doing right. Maybe he makes sure the car is always clean or that the recycling is always on the curb come garbage day or maybe he is really good at keeping his clothes put away.
Give him a way to solve the problem.
There is a reason why men love superhero movies. It’s because the superhero is resourceful, uses his tools effetely and always solves the problem!
Your husband wants to be your superhero.
And I’m even slightly cringing as I type this because I know how cheesy this is but, believe me, it’s true. I found this out within the last year and it’s been a HUGE help in my marriage.
I learnt about this phenomenon while reading, “The Man’s Guide to Women” by Dr. John Gottman. He constantly asks the men (who supposedly are reading his book) if they want to be a zero or a hero.
And I’ve asked plenty of Baha’i husbands to know the answer: they want to be a hero.
So give your husband a way to be your hero or he will simply be left feeling like there is no way to win (which will cause him to dis-engage and ‘not listen’).
In order to do this, you need to get clear about what you want BEFORE you start the conversation. Give him something to DO rather than just complaining about what he ISN’T DOING.
So in this scenario, you might say, “My _________ (insert adoring nickname), it would make me so happy if you could_________ (insert desired action).” And if you want to take it a step further, you could say, “I love it when you are my hero” J
If you need him to just listen about something, let him know that the way to ‘solve the problem’ is to do just that. You might get a strange look because this concept is very foreign for him but I’m sure he will be okay with it as long as you aren’t criticism or complaining about him.
Your husband’s silence doesn’t mean what you think it does.
I think us women underestimate how much training we have in sharing our feelings and being able to think quick on the spot.
Sometimes my husband says that I have an unfair advantage and, I hate to admit it, but I’m pretty sure he’s right.
Men often feel a little pounced on when we come on full-force with our well thought-out arguments and future plans.
Plus, they really want to make us happy (remember that bit?) so they can be trying desperately to come up with a good solution AND trying to avoid conflict which makes them extremely uncomfortable (we call it ‘just talking’ or even ‘connecting’)
One man in Shawn Smith’s research said this:
“Not talking means I’m thinking, especially if I’m in trouble with her. I’m thinking about how to make the situation better for both of us. I’m not clamming up or distancing myself from her.”
So continuing with the housework scenario- just allow some silence. Repeat to yourself, “He wants to make me happy. He wants to be my hero”, when you feel the need to jump in and fill the conversation gaps.
And if you’d like some more help setting up your conversation to go smoothly, you can grab the free pre-communication checklist: a 5 min mental run-through to make sure your conversation ends with love- not war 🙂