4 Things Fathers Should Teach Their Daughters About Men Part II
It has taken me most of my marriage to understand that men and women communicate differently. For whatever reason I initially assumed that conversation with my spouse was equivalent to talking to a close girlfriend: not quite. What I failed to realize was that gender differences can trump even the most compatible of marriage relationships.
Sometimes the original intent of our words gets lost in translation: leaving us with confusion, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and silence. This is not just my opinion but that of countless women who’ve uttered phrases like, “He doesn’t talk to me anymore,” or “We can’t seem to agree on anything”.
Of course it does, because somewhere in every city, state, and country, there are women gathered together for the sole purpose of talking about men. And although I love a good congregating of estrogen and a cup of something creamy, the best advice on men comes from another man and not a woman. In fact, a woman should ideally learn how to communicate with a man from her father.
Which explains why my husband spent a large part of our marriage telling me to read, “Men are from Mars are Women are from Venus”. I think it was his polite way of saying, “Your communication with me is not working.” He was right; it wasn’t.
I was an only child, born with a dominant personality, and raised in a single parent household. To say that I was clueless about communicating with a man is an understatement. Consequently, much of my marital journey has been like taking the course on men I did not get from my father.
I’m still in school and don’t anticipate graduating anytime soon. The little I’ve learned from failure, books, the Bible, and messages has been invaluable in my marriage. For this reason, I am sharing a few of the lessons I believe fathers should teach their daughters about men with you.
# 1 Men Communicate Differently
Whether talking out a problem or sharing a story, women connect through conversation. This is problematic when a man doesn’t talk at all. Often the woman is left to figure out how to connect with him on her own.
The absence of connection breeds isolation, fear, and an overwhelming sense of loneliness that cannot be overcome by the presence of people. When the most important relationship in her adult life feels distant this ache will follow her even in a crowded room.
So the questions become, “Why do men go silent?” and “What can a woman do if this happens to her?” Although the answers to this question vary, T.D. Jakes, author, and pastor, offers some perspective on the subject in his book, “He-Motions: Even Strong Men Struggle”.
This book has become one of my go to resources when it comes to understanding a man. In it, Jakes vividly peels back the multilayered psyche of a man for women that would otherwise be left in the dark. In his chapter on a man’s relationship with His Woman he gives the following eye opening information.
Many men find it hard to remain attached emotionally. It cost us so much to continue to pour into what seems like an endless abyss of insecurity in our wives. We weary of reassuring her while secretly needing a bit of reassuring ourselves. It’s too frightening to bare our souls, afraid we might get hit with a barrage of accusations, demands, or reprimands when we’re at our most vulnerable. So eventually, we just stop participating emotionally. Oh, we still show up for work, punch the time clock, make love, take out the trash, and discuss the checking account, but it’s like we’re watching ourselves on TV, not really connecting with our own lives.
Jake’s words explain much of what I didn’t understand early on in marriage. It sheds light on that look of dread I saw on my husband’s face every time I uttered the infamous four words, “We need to talk”. The wisdom housed in this excerpt illustrates how sometimes a man’s silence has more to do with what’s going on internally than his wife.
A man’s silence may be indicative of his insecurities and a massive fear of failure. He may long to share all that is taking place in his heart but may be held back by a fear of being misunderstood, rejected, or criticized by his wife. Given his upbringing, he simply may lack the tools needed to communicate what is in his heart and mind with clarity. He may feel as though he has to maintain an I-have-it-altogether persona because he is the man.
But all the while a man is in his silo unable to come out, life is happening. The kids are screaming, dinner needs to be cooked, bills need to be paid, and the world keeps spinning. Sometimes the woman is left juggling a household by herself while the man has emotionally left the building.
If this is the case, what is a woman supposed to do if she cannot verbally communicate with her man? Aren’t there times when a woman needs to talk to her spouse? Are we just to muffle our words while a 911 emergency breaks out in our lives and our souls?
I believe, the answer is found in Ecclesiastes 3: 7 (NIV), “(There is) a time to be silent and a time to speak,”. Although women have every right to speak in a marriage, there is an art form to mastering when and how to communicate with a man so that he will communicate back. This highly skilled and delicate art form is imparted by God overtime.
Like being guided through a treacherous terrain, God teaches us in marriage. With every insecurity laced statement, silent response and debilitating argument He gently instructs us when and how to speak if we choose to listen.
“Encourage Him now. Don’t ask that question today. Forgive. Say it softer. Just be silent and trust me. I will speak to Him on your behalf. Choose to love him.”
These are words God has spoken in the stillness of my heart and I have watched Him be the glue that has held my husband and I together for almost 14 years.
When we are at a communication impasse with our spouse we should go to God; this is far more effective than harassment. In Proverbs 21: 1 (NIV) it says, “In the Lord’s hand the king’s heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” God can do the emotional heart surgery on us and our husbands. He lays the foundation for mutually fulfilling communication in marriage. He can impact the heart of our husbands in ways our words never will.