4 No-Talking Tools to Boost Your Relationship

My recent post on The No-Talking Way to a Better Marriage provided reasons why men react with extreme stress responses when women want to share feelings and discuss relationship problems.

The natural next step is to find out what strategies may be more effective for wives to address concerns or problems. Co-author Patricia Love suggests:

  1. Use nonverbal communication to connect and bond—Use touch (see article and research about the importance of touch), shared activities (games, sports, talking a walk), or sex to bond you as a couple. When you are bonded, women need to talk less, and men want to share more, so you reach a happy middle-ground. When you are closely bonded, it’s easier to communicate lovingly.
  2. Convey compassion—Love says she has learned that compassion is more critical to relational success than love. We convey compassion by learning to empathize with the other person’s emotions, even when we can’t relate to them. Put yourself in your partner’s role. See her fears. See his doubt or shame. Allow yourself to feel compassion for your spouse, rather than to focus solely on your own unmet needs. We may need to re-train our brains to mentally trade places, especially during a conflict.
  3. Develop a hand signal that conveys the love and importance you feel for one another. Use it when you are feeling those emotions, and also keep it handy for when you are having discussions that may turn ugly. If one of you uses this hand signal, it can help prevent arguments from getting out of hand by reminding each of you of the relationships’ priority.
  4. Use positive reinforcement instead of complaining. For example, say, “I really appreciate when you put your laundry away” instead of “Why do you let your laundry sit out for days? It drives me nuts.” It will just come out sweeter, and your honey will be more likely to comply and to remember next time how much it pleases you.

Here’s a longer article about the book if you’re interested.

Do you find any of these strategies helpful? I think bonding and positive reinforcement are particularly effective, and compassion can motivate us to love differently. Thumbs up or down on the hand signals?

3 responses to “4 No-Talking Tools to Boost Your Relationship

  1. I definitely agree that difficult discussions are much easier if my wife and I are feeling connected. Touch is one key part of this for us (been meaning to post a comment on your touch post – very good one). Walks are also a very good time for us to talk. Of course sexual intimacy gives the ultimate sense of connection. Bottom line, we do much better at collaborating on solutions when we are feeling really connected.

    My take on compassion may be a bit different. To me it means understanding the difference in wiring (in general) between men and women, an idea that you touched on in your last post. Men typically need to be approached in a way that maintains honor and respect. This means things like speaking in a non-accusatory manner, genuine affirmation, and maintaining a respectful tone. Women typically need to be approached in a way that maintains the love connection and their sense that they are cherished and cared for regardless of the issue at hand. This means things like affirmation through touch and eye-contact, reinforcing the value of the relationship, expressing unconditional acceptance and love.

    For me this idea of understanding differences gives clues to how we can use positive reinforcement a bit differently for men and women as well. For men – reinforce respect and honor; for women – reinforce love and acceptance.

    Of course these are generalization, but I’ve found they seem to hold pretty true. Do you agree?

    As for hand signals? Nah.

  2. Yes, Scott, I do agree. Good descriptions of how to demonstrate compassion. Glad you liked the post on touch. I was surprised such convincing research exists to reinforce its importance. Cheers!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing Lori!

    I guess what it comes down to is; love, feel love, express love, accept love.

    Great insight.

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