Tag Archives: no-talking way to boost marriage

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?

The No-Talking Way to a Better Marriage

If you aim to make your husband fidgety, stressed and uncomfortable, simply utter the words, “Honey, we need to talk.”

While talking about feelings can be soothing to women, for many men, it has the opposite effect, according to psychotherapists Patricia Love and Steven Stosney, co-authors of How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. Stosney’s research, which includes studying hundreds of human and animal responses, shows males and females respond differently to stress from birth. For instance, baby girls need to make eye contact if they hear a loud noise, while boys need to withdraw to prevent overstimulation. As they get older, girls and women use talking to cope with stress, while boys and men pull away to cope.

The authors explain men tend to feel shame if they feel they don’t measure up. So, a woman initiating a conversation about relationship problems can cause these feelings of shame to well up. Other likely results: glazed eyes, defensiveness, or withdrawal (to TV, man cave, sports, etc.).

Why? Love explains when a man feels shamed by his sweetie’s criticsm, the stress hormone cortisol floods his body. A woman might feel a similar stress hormone rush if her husband yells at her.

So are there better strategies to address relationship issues? Thankfully, yes. Stay tuned for the next post, which will give you the four new tools to keep you both calm and cool, and perhaps more likely to please one another.

Let’s hear from you. If you’re a man, do you agree with this assessment that talking about your feelings is about as pleasant as eating sand? If you’re a woman, do you find relationship discussions put your partner on edge, or are they successful?