I was having coffee with friends the other day, and we were speculating about what Christmas presents we’re likely to receive from our husbands. One went on to tell us what had happened to her last year. She had visited a fantastic little café whilst on holiday and really fancied getting a cookbook that they had published, so she thought she'd drop a few hints to her Significant Other about getting it for Christmas. However, despite the many hints, she ended up getting a NutriBullet instead - which whilst being absolutely fine, wasn’t quite what she had set her heart on…
Are you with a man who doesn't seem to get you?
This article is for any woman whose partner doesn't seem to get them - whether it's choosing slightly dodgy Christmas presents, to not knowing when you need help around the house, to understanding what gets you going in the bedroom. You know, sometimes you look at this guy, the guy you couldn't stop thinking about once upon a time, the one guy that allegedly knows you better than any other, and wonder - does he really know who I am? What I want?
It's not about how much you love each other
Please don't get me wrong, your man undoubtedly loves you, and understands your little ways more than you probably do yourself (I’ll tell you about my husband’s razor-sharp gauge of how my day’s gone just by the way I say ‘hello’ when he comes home some other time). It’s just sometimes he doesn't seem to hear you - or somehow, all the words somehow get tumbled around in his head so that something vital is lost … usually the message you were trying to communicate in the first place.
This isn’t a problem between you and him. It's actually a problem to do with basic communication.
On average men use 7000 words a day compared to women's 20,000, which from the get-go shows how much more we like to talk than them. It goes further than that, though - it's not so much the amount of words we use than the way in which we use them that makes a difference. Men communicate far more directly then we do. We couch things delicately, gently … and for most men, far too subtly for them to grasp. The fact that they use one-third of the words that we do shows that when they do use words, they intend them to be effective, and not just word dressing. That's why dropping a man a hint is more likely to result in… well… nothing much, instead of your desired outcome (or present). Let's use my friends cookbook conversation with her husband as an example.
Her: remember that great restaurant we went to on holiday last year?
Him: yeah, It was great.
Her: it was brilliant. I loved that cookbook they’d published. (Thinks: hint-drop deployed, boom!)
Him: yeah. (Thinks: why are we talking about this during Soccer Saturday?)
Women and men would translate my friend’s hint-drop differently:
XX: M really loves that cookbook. (Store away for future reference under ‘Gifts for M’)
XY: M likes that cookbook she saw on holiday (file under ‘An irrelevant witter from M during Soccer Saturday’ or actually, not file at all)
If we look at what my friend said literally, then her husband's translation is perfectly accurate. All she has done is told him that she liked a cookbook she saw on holiday; no more, no less. Men speak directly, and interpret most things literally. You only have to mention to my husband or father-in-law that you're going to put the kettle on to see that interpretation in full effect. (I'd like to say their response is side-splitting, but I won’t trifle with your intelligence.)
Because men are so direct, they also need us to give them direction. M’s statement about the cookbook didn’t register with her husband because he didn't know what to do with the information. There are a number of reasons why men like direction:
- they'll understand exactly what is required of them
- they'll get what we requested right, thereby avoiding lots of sighs and potentially the Silent Treatment
- it's a damn sight easier than having to think up something themselves (and thus risk lots of sighs and potential Silent Treatment).
For M to have got her cookbook last Christmas, a more effective way to communicate her message might have been:
Her: can I speak to you for a sec?
Her: I know what I’d like for Christmas. Do you remember that café we went to on holiday last year?
Him: yeah, The Crumbly Cookie?
Her: yeah, that's the one. They'd published a great cookbook called Cook The Crumbly Cookie Way. Can I have it for Christmas please? They’ve got a website, crumblycookie.co.uk.
Him: yeah, right, okay, let me stick the details on my phone…
Now I know that some of you might feel that this sucks all the romance out of gift-giving, but it doesn't. It shows that he has heard you. It shows that he wants to please you and that he can deliver on requests. And ask yourself this: would you rather leave getting what you want to the Fickle Hand of Romantic Fate, or do you just want to get what you want?
Speaking more clearly and directly to your man is a sure-fire way to get more of what you want in every aspect of your relationship, not just Christmas presents. So, no more dropping hints, no hoping he can read your mind. He can't. If you want something, make it easy on both of you. Just tell him.
Would you like to communicate more effectively with your partner and reduce arguments or stand-offs between you? If so, my couples program can help you! To find out more, just click here.
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