When Paul McCartney sang Maybe I’m Amazed about his wife, Linda, the song put into words the feelings of connection so many couples share. Listeners swooned as he expressed how amazed he was by his love for her. One of the surprising lines he sang is, “You right me when I’m wrong,” which is followed by, “Maybe I’m amazed at the way I need you.” The truth is, couples do need to lovingly correct one another sometimes. This is part of an honest, intimate relationship.
Unfortunately, many women often suck at this. Wives are six times more likely to fuss and scold than are husbands, according to Dr. John Gottman, marriage researcher and professor emeritus at the University of Washington. The result? Husbands are 85% more likely to stone-wall than wives.
The reason men shut down is not because the communication is negative. Many men deal with negative issues at work all day long. It’s the way the wife communicates that pushes him to silence—the berating, pointing, emasculating, scowling or yelling. These disrespectful exchanges are not tolerated by most men. In fact, they shut down and stop listening. They’re unable or unwilling to process extremely emotional outbursts. Who knows, maybe they’re thinking about the big game or where they’d rather be, but they’re probably not listening to you.
If you have negative information, try to communicate it clearly, briefly and gently. Control your tone and facial expression. Don’t belabor the point. When it comes time for you to hear a suggestion or complaint from your husband, try to receive that communication in the same way you’d like him to respond to you.
A great line in the McCartney song is, “You help me sing my song.” All spouses should be encouraging one another so that they are better off together than alone, to help each other fulfill the purpose you have here on earth. Remember to build your spouse up with positive comments, so that the negative to positive ratio is no more than 1:5.
What are the things that amaze you about your spouse? Share with him/her.