Men are right. The "relationship talk" does not help. Dr. Patricia Love's and
Dr. Steven Stosny's How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It
reveals the stunning truth about marital happiness:
Love is not about better communication.
It's about connection.
You'll never get a closer relationship
with your man by talking to him like you
talk to one of your girlfriends.
Male emotions are like women's sexuality:
you can't be too direct too quickly.
There are four ways to connect with a man:touch, activity, sex, routines.
Men want closer marriages just as much as women do,but not if they has to act like a woman.
Talking makes women move closer;
it makes men move away.
The secret of the silent male is this:
his wife supplies the meaning in his life.
The stunning truth about love is that talking doesn't help.
Have you ever had this conversation with your spouse?
Wife: "Honey, we need to talk about us."
Husband: "Do we have to?"
Drs. Patricia Love and Steven Stosny have studied this all-too-familiar dynamic between men and women and have reached a truly shocking conclusion. Even with the best of intentions, talking about your relationship doesn't bring you together, and it will eventually drive you apart.
The reason for this is that underneath most couples' fights, there is a biological difference at work. A woman's vulnerability to fear and anxiety makes her draw closer, while a man's subtle sensitivity to shame makes him pull away in response. This is why so many married couples fall into the archetypal roles of nagging wife/stonewalling husband, and why improving a marriage can't happen through words.
How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It teaches couples how to get closer in ways that don't require "trying to turn a man into a woman." Rich in stories of couples who have turned their marriages around, and full of practical advice about the behaviors that make and break marriages, this essential guide will help couples find love beyond words.
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April 27, 2008
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Excerpt from How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking about It by Patricia Love
How We Break The Connection
Fear and Shame
Things weren't always so bad for Marlene and Mark. At one time they cherished the closeness they felt--all their friends used to marvel at how close and connected they were. They can still vividly recall the good times, but instead of comforting them, these memories of the closeness they once had now fill them with sadness and a deep sense of loss. They often wonder how they got to this lonely state. Their story is all the more sad because it is so common.
Marlene and Mark arrived at their chronic state of disconnection without either of them doing anything wrong. Marlene has never grasped that Mark, like most men, has a heightened sensitivity to feeling shame and inadequacy. (How could she? His impulse when he feels shame is to hide, so he can't tell her about it. Instead, he disguises it with annoyance, impatience, or anger.) She does not understand that each time she tries to make improvements in their relationship, the overriding message Mark hears is that he is not meeting her expectations--he's failing her--which sends him into the pain of his own inadequacy. While trying to ward off feeling like a failure, Mark is no longer sensitive to Marlene's fear of being isolated and shut out. In the beginning of their relationship, he sensed her need for connection and wouldn't have dreamed of shutting her out. But now he has no idea that each time he rejects her overtures or raises his voice in anger--purely to protect himself--he's pushing her further away and deeper into the pain of isolation.
It's so easy for couples to slip into this pattern, because the different vulnerabilities that so greatly influence the way men and women interact with each other are virtually invisible. In the beginning of the relationship, the falling-in-love chemicals our brains secrete make it easy to focus on each other's more subtle emotions. But once the effects of those chemicals wear off--within three to nine months--we need to make a more conscious effort to protect each other's vulnerabilities. To do this, we first need to understand the different vulnerabilities of men and women and how we manage them in our relationships.
How We're Different: Fear and Pain
The differences that underlie male and female vulnerabilities are biological and present at birth. Baby girls, from day one, are more sensitive to isolation and lack of contact. No doubt this sensitivity evolved as an important survival skill designed to keep the female in contact not only with her offspring but also with others in the group who would offer her protection. In the days of roaming predators, the only hope of survival was to help one another ward off an enemy. A woman or child left alone was sure prey. So over the millennia, females developed a kind of internal GPS that keeps them aware of closeness and distance in all their relationships. When a woman feels close, she can relax; when she feels distant, she gets anxious. This is why a baby girl can hold your gaze for a long period of time. She is comforted by the closeness the eye-to-eye contact provides. It also explains why, left alone for the same period of time, a girl baby will fuss and complain before a boy baby. This heightened sensitivity to isolation makes females react strongly to another person's anger, withdrawal, silence, or other sign of unavailability. It is more frightening to her to be out of contact than it is for a male. This is not to say that males prefer isolation or distance; it's just that females feel more discomfort when they are not in contact.
Men have a hard time understanding a woman's fear and the pain associated with it. One reason is that a woman's fear provokes shame in a man: "You shouldn't be afraid with me as your protector!" This is why he gets angry when she gets anxious or upset. But there's another reason men just don't get women's fear. They don't know what it feels like. Research shows the single biggest sex difference in emotions is in the frequency and intensity of fear--how often you get afraid and how afraid you get.