How Wives Can Learn to Speak the Language of Men & Get Their Attention!

Of course all men do not speak alike. My brother, for instance, uses sports analogies in business: “This is a slam dunk!” Meanwhile, my husband has minimal interest in or connection to sports. However, there is a common communication thread with most of the men I know, and Scott Haltzman, MD, puts his finger on this commonality in his book The Secrets of Happily Married Women. In the book, he suggests wives need to learn to speak the language of men, which he calls Man-ese. (It’s just one of the interesting secrets I learned about when reading this book.)

Dr. Haltzman says men tend to be very direct and objective. They make their point, then they’re done. Think about a high-level business meeting and how everyone tries to communicate only the key nuggets of information. Women, meanwhile, are more subjective talkers who enjoy discussing feelings and details of daily events, storytelling, context, etc. (Yep, that’s me.) For women, this type of conversation doesn’t lack purpose. However, men who are listening may not be able to remain focused for the entire length of the conversation, even if they try.

Blame it on biology. Dr. Haltzman says the male brain is just not set up for what we are seeking, and that women should not expect their man to talk like a woman. Instead, happy couples should respect their communication differences.  I hear some of you saying, “But my sweetheart used to listen to me for hours and ask me all about my day. Now he doesn’t seem to show the same level of concern.” Again, blame it on biology. During the dating phase, Dr. Haltzman says dopamine and norepinephrine are at their highest levels, making us more talkative and more focused on others’ interests. As the relationship proceeds, the hormone levels fall, along with the constant in-depth communication. (However, you can boost those hormones by participating in new and exciting activities.)

What’s the solution? Wives can usually sense the body language that dear hubby is tired or losing interest. Use the “Talk Less” strategy to get your point across rather than criticizing him for not talking enough or not listening well enough. Here’s how it works:

1. Put your point up front. The average female’s attention span is 15 minutes, while the average male attention is five minutes. Get your point out fast before you lose him, especially if you see his focus wandering. 

“I honestly believe that this small change in your communication style, all by itself, has the power to drastically improve your relationship with your husband, making you both oh so much happier,” says Dr. Haltzman.

2. Use fewer words. Did you ever realize that people who talk less are more closely listened to? The more you talk, the less people listen.

3. Speak in his language. Don’t meander and hint about your point. (They don’t get it.) Be simple and direct. Instead of giving all the reasons you won’t have time to make dinner, ask him to pick up take-out. When you need ice cream, a back rub or a hug, ask for it!

4. Give him time to respond. He may be thinking of the best way to respond.

5. Watch your timing. Remember that while women are natural multi-taskers (there I go generalizing again), men usually do not possess this skill. (Although my dear hubby is amazingly skilled in so many areas, he can only do one task at a time.) If you talk to your guy when he is otherwise engaged, he will probably not be able to hear you or remember your conversation at a later point. Remove distractions (including hunger) when possible.

In short, Dr. Haltzman advises being concise and direct. Then you’ll only have to make your point once.

So, do you agree with this description of Man-ese? Do you sometimes find yourself talking and not being heard? Does your sweetie sometimes miss your point entirely or forget what you asked him to do? Share your feedback if you give this “Talk Less” strategy a try.

Photo ©NiDerLander/PhotoXpress

16 responses to “How Wives Can Learn to Speak the Language of Men & Get Their Attention!

  1. Men are not women. They don’t want to hear every shading and nuance and feeling and description of who was there and what they were wearing. Like the old series from the 60’s Dragnet, just the facts maam. What is more important is that women talk over each other and interrupt each other when they speak. Most guys consider it highly disresepectful when you interrupt him when he is talking. Best to listen to him until he is done and then ask your questions. Just saying.

    Blessings on you and yours
    John Wilder

  2. Hmmm…I’m not a guy…I’m a girl…Men like me because I am a girl…Woman…My husband likes me because I am a woman…My woman-ness makes me unique in our relationship…He likes it when I wear womanly clothing…He also likes me for my womanly traits…I like him for his manly traits…I ain’t changing him, he ain’t changing me…If he wants to talk to a guy, he can talk to a guy…I speak volumes, he doesn’t…That is just what makes us tick…It works because we are different…Understanding those differences may be helpful…Changing who you are may not be helpful…Less is not always more…How would you feel if your wife started sporting a mustache to make you feel more comfortable?

  3. Well this is as basic as it gets, sometimes we need to be reminded of this very obvious difference in the sexes.

  4. The goal of communication is understanding. Emmerson Eggerichs (“Love and Repsect”) says that the problem is that men and women speak different languages. Even when they use the same words, they might hear a different meaning. When you add the differences described above in brain wiring and processing it’s amazing that we can ever really understand each other!

    I think it is very helpful to keep these differences in mind when communicating. It’s not so much that men need to become like women or women like men, but that if we really want to be heard and understood, we should do whatever we can to help make that happen.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Scott, you make an excellent point about how we may hear a different meaning even when we hear the same words. That’s true, especially when we as women may focus more on body language and what we interpret as the intent of the wording. Agree, the point is just to keep the differences in mind and to make adjustments where we can help our partner improve understanding.

  5. Another issue ladies is say what you mean and mean what you say. If he ask you “What’s wrong?” and you say “Nothing” when you are obviously troubled…don’t be mad when he says “ok” and drops the issue. Or if he ask you if you mind he go do something and you say “No” when in fact you would prefer him to stay home…you can’t get made when he reaches for the keys and heads toward the door. Men are not going to try and decipher what it is you really mean.

    • Definitely. It causes nothing but frustration on both sides, but as women sometimes we feel like he should know what’s wrong. Better to be honest and straightforward.

  6. You are absolutely right by saying ‘Men make their point and they are done” ,mostly women doesn’t follow this. For a happy marriage life if both men and women learn how they can effectively use marriage communication , can make their life happy.

  7. Pingback: Pillow Talk | Daily Generous Wife Tips

  8. Hey Lori:

    You mentioned an interesting point with your response to the Goldenchild. Far too many women expect men to be mind readers. Just because we love you does not mean that we can read your mind. Women are more intuitive as a rule. Men need very clear and unambiguous communication. It might be frustrating for women, but if you adopt a clear and unambiguous conversation strategy with your man, he will appreciate it and both of you will get along better and be less frustrated.

    John Wilder

    • Agreed! And also agree on not interrupting. I find that some people are very sensitive to that, while others don’t mind you jumping into the conversation.
      Take care.

  9. Hmmmm, while I agree with most of what has been said here, I look at marriage as a team effort. I don’t think men are as “simple” as we have been led to believe. Yes, we are different and have different conversational styles, etc…and yes, women tend to be more intuitive. But after 5, 15, 25 years of marriage, one would think a man would “get” how his wife ticks; what she likes, how much time she needs with her husband, what she likes to talk about….so on and so forth. I think men (and some women, to be fair) put in more energy and time when it comes to their careers and not as much time for their marriages. I’ve read that the average couple is lucky to talk to each other for 15 minutes a day. I think the problem is not so much that men can’t communicate well; it’s that no one is really talking at all anymore!

    • You make a good point that probably a larger issue than our differences in communication is the lack of spending dedicated time each day talking to each other. I don’t think men are “simpler’ but I think in general men like to get the point quicker. Thanks for the comment! Peace.

  10. Beth, you got a very good point there. I also see this with my parents. They both love each other and arent thinking of a divorce, but my mum is infernallly frustrated with my dad, cause he doesnt talk anymore, qnd he is frustrated with her cause she can be overemotional and very anxious and stressed over nothing. Its very hard for me, as Im in between of two fires, so to speak. And I understand them both, but they dont understand each other… :/

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