How to talk to your manPublished 1:16pm Saturday, April 27, 2013
An Albert Lea therapist gives couples tips for working through issues
Men must be from Mars, because sometimes it feels like we are worlds apart when trying to communicate with them.
And feeling that way is pretty normal, according to Teresa M. Anderson-Krull of Albert Lea. An individual and family therapist with 25 years of experience, she has developed a niche for couple’s therapy over the past decade.
Because intimacy and emotions can drive women, it can be a struggle to communicate with men because men often compartmentalize their issues. The woman’s perception is that men don’t express their feelings.
“That’s just how the majority of people are wired,” she said. “Educating both sides is the key.”
Anderson-Krull said the three biggest differences couples experience are related to sex, money and parenting. Often, it’s all of the above. For example, the most common parenting issue she sees is letting the child sleep in mom and dad’s bed. Ironically, this coincides with sex issues. Not sleeping together is one of the biggest mistakes a couple can make.
“The quickest route to getting into a discussion is to ask about sex, because that answers 50 other questions,” Anderson-Krull said. “That’s where the discussion starts.”
However, if there is no intimacy in the relationship, there won’t be much of a discussion. Women crave touching, kissing and cuddling, yet they view sex as another chore and often close themselves off to it. Men, on the other hand, are much more apt to open up and communicate afterward. To overcome this obstacle, Anderson-Krull encourages women to change their thinking: think about intimate time with your partner as something to relieve stress and enjoy.
“Think of it as maintenance and insurance — plus it’s good for you,” she said, pointing out that sex helps release endorphins that make a woman feel good.
Time is yet another roadblock for couples. When both the husband and wife are working full time and raising children, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. By the end of the day when they are alone, they are simply exhausted.
The solution? Date night. Anderson-Krull encourages women to put it on the calendar and keep the date.
“You don’t have to have money,” she said. “Put the kids to bed early and stay in. Do some dancing or enjoy a glass of wine.”
Time management in the home is important. Anderson-Krull encourages women to set aside family time, couples’ time and time out with girlfriends. Keeping their own identity keeps them interesting and gives them something more to talk about. The same goes for men.
Money issues can be handled just about as swiftly. The biggest financial issue Anderson-Krull sees is that only one of the spouses is doing the bills each month while the other one is complaining about a lack of money in the account, or spending more than they have. She recommends that couples take turns doing the bills or do them together. A joint account for the bills with individual accounts for each spouse is also effective, as it’s good for a woman to have her own account and maintain her own credit rating. Plus, this gives a wife and husband each a little of their own money to use for hobbies and fun.
“Men will never understand why a woman spends $100 on her hair every couple of months, and women get tired of trying to explain,” she said. “With regards to this argument, I like to say a man’s haircut usually costs $12 to $18 every four to six weeks and takes about 15 minutes. A woman’s hair appointment is usually one to two hours, so it all works out the same.”
Anderson-Krull pointed out several things women can do keep communication on track with their spouse.
One common mistake women make when trying to communicate with her husband is choosing the wrong time of day to have the discussion. Hitting him with a heavy conversation right when he walks in the door after work is not going to be productive, likely escalating the argument. To this, Anderson-Krull said you should simply ask him when a good time is to talk and set the expectation of how long it will take.
Once the discussion starts, another productive technique for women is to try and agree with something the man says. This validates his self-worth and makes him more open to communicating.
“Men will listen better if they feel like they’ve done something right, so you can bridge off that,” she said.
Another common mistake made by women and men alike is blocking out what they know to be good and true. As life and issues can cloud your reality into a different perception, think back to when you first met.
“Do a checklist,” she said. “What did I find attractive when we were dating and why did I marry him?”
These tips will give couples a good start, but the important part is to have patience and to stay positive so the good communication you have can continue.
Here are six simple ways to let your woman know you love her:
1. Compliment her. She cannot read your mind, so tell her if you think she looks nice.
2. Give her a kiss or hug without implying sex.
3. Help her with things. Nothing tugs at a woman’s heart strings like seeing a man washing dishes or playing with the children.
4. Send her a text message. Let her know you’re thinking about her.
5. Flirt — it was cute when you were dating!
6. Use humor. Women love it when a man’s being silly.