Loc: 46th Least Free State
I found his perspective very wise for one so young. It is long, well written and has some amusing moments.
Why men are bad listeners
Posted on December 14, 2013 by The Matt Walsh Blog
I wasnt going to respond to this because I dont want to give the impression that I think Im a marriage expert. Im not, and I know that. Still, I had one thought that might be useful to the guy who emailed this to me:
I know you are accepting blog post submissions but I have a blog topic submission: Marriage. Im a few years younger than you so it might be weird to ask your advice. But Im getting married in three weeks. I know your married and you have kids and everything. I doubt youll ever see this message but if you do I have a simple question: Do you have any advice for someone who is about to take the plunge? You write about your kids a lot but I havent seen you write about married life too much. What can I expect? What should I know going in? I thought this could be an interesting thing for you to tackle.
Thanks for the blog, I really enjoy it.
Ive only been married for two years. Im far from a veteran and far from an expert. Im still wading through this jungle, and Im only a few steps ahead of you.
So I give this advice humbly, and I ask that you take it with a grain of salt. Im sure you could talk to an older and wiser person who could write 100 chapters of marital wisdom. For my part, I will only submit one point for consideration. Actually, it could be one word:
Its the most cliché piece of advice I can give, but there it is. I wish I could offer something more creative or exciting.
I wish I could tell you that the most urgent skill for a married man to have is Karate, or swordsmanship, so that he may defend his bride against Vikings and dragons. That would be pretty cool. But Ive been hitched for two years and, sadly, this situation has yet to come up. (Though Im fully prepared for it).
But Ive had to listen. A lot.
Seriously, dude: a lot.
As a married guy, the most essential talent for you to develop is the ability to listen. Trust me. You want to make her happy? Listen to her.
When I say listen, I dont mean obey or agree or go along or follow commands like a frightened puppy. I mean try to understand, engage, care, attend, concentrate. The number one complaint women have about men is that we dont listen, and theyre right. We dont. At least not up to their standards. Its just not something that comes naturally to most of us.
This will be a difficult adjustment for your wife, because women are incredibly gifted listeners. My wife can breastfeed the twins, while vacuuming the carpet, while cooking dinner, while juggling flaming chainsaws, while shopping for Christmas gifts online, and still listen to, and understand, anything you say to her. Its incredible. Meanwhile, I can fully and deeply invest my mind, body and soul into only one activity or conversation at any given moment. In other words, you better wait until I finish tying my shoes before you tell me anything important.
One thing at time, man, one thing at a time.
In fact, theres this game my wife likes to play. She never tells me when were playing it, so she always wins. It goes like this: she comes into the room while Im distracted by the TV, or by the computer, or by a book, or by food, or by my daydreams, or by a squirrel on the porch. She then lets loose a rapid string of verbal information, instructions, plans, feelings, emotions, hopes, dreams, stories, fables, poems, haikus, riddles, and to-do lists. Twenty seven minutes in, shell abruptly stop and ask me if Im listening. Am I listening? Of course, honey. Proceed.
Then comes the fatal blow: Well then what was I saying?
Ive tried different strategies in dealing with that question. Ive tried repeating just a few words and phrases I picked up along the way, but shell generally demand context, which is always my undoing. Ive tried taking a stab at a guess: You were talking about
and other things
But she isnt fooled. Ive also tried the complimentary route: How could I concentrate on what you are saying when I am so blinded by your beauty, my sweet flower? No luck on that one, usually.
In the end I must admit my defeat. I am exposed and shamed.
Now, Ive tried beating her at her own game. When shes obviously pro-occupied, Ill swoop in and begin a lengthy dissertation about my job, current events, foreign affairs, philosophy, and the Ravens injury report for Sunday. At the conclusion of my remarks, noticing the somewhat blank expression on her face, Ill ask her if she was listening. Of course shell claim she was, which sets me up to deliver a glorious dose of her own medicine: Oh yeah? Well what was I saying?!
And herein lies the difference between men and women: she will proceed to not only repeat everything verbatim, but shell even add in additional information that she inferred and intuited from my statements. She wont just repeat what I said, shell repeat things that I thought but didnt say. Shell tell me how she feels about my comments, offer her opinion, and then ask relevant questions about each specific point I covered.
Ridiculous. How does she do it?
Either that, or she listens. She listens intently. Women tend to do that, even when it looks like they arent.
As guys, well never be quite that good, but we can certainly improve.
Its not really our fault that we arent gifted listeners. Its our fault if we dont make an earnest attempt to develop the skill for the sake of our marriages, but it isnt our fault that we go into the marriage with underdeveloped listening capabilities. When men are around other men, listening does not require much energy or effort. In fact, we can be with our buddies for stretches of time without saying much of anything. If we do communicate, its generally to convey an easily identifiable point. Statistically, almost every friendly male to male conversation consists of:
-an exchange of useful information.
-a discussion about a topic of mutual interest (sports, beef, etc.)
-making a joke.
-arguing about politics.
-making fun of some other guy in the group.
These exchanges rarely involve feelings, or insinuations, or emotions. All participants say whatever they want to say, and details that arent directly related to the topic at hand will be left out. A man-conversation or manversation, as I call it is almost always linear. We touch on Point A, followed by Point B, followed by Point C. The end. If a response is necessary, one will be issued. The response from the other men in the vicinity could be a simple affirmation that someone just said something (ex: Oh really? Cool.). Or it could be a more detailed retort, if the situation warrants it. Very little is implied or intuited in a manversation; all partakers verbally convey whatever thoughts they find relevant to the matter, and thats that. Alright, commercials are over, lets watch the game.
We grow up this way and get used to communicating in this manner, until we get married. Now, suddenly, we are spending our lives with a strange, beautiful, and mysterious creature called woman. And, despite the insistence of your gender studies professors, we begin to realize that men and women, generally speaking, are very different. These differences are wonderful and life-giving, but they can also cause problems for us if we dont acknowledge and understand them.
One of the principle differences is how we communicate. We communicate differently in both quality and quantity. Women are nurturing and empathetic, so they have a natural desire to engage with those around them. As her husband, she will especially want to engage with you. And when she does, her words will be packed with layers of feelings and emotions, hopes and desires, doubts and fears. She will want to speak not just to your head, but to your soul. She will want to know you and understand you, and, in turn, have you know and understand her. This is what makes listening a cornerstone of a successful marriage, but also what makes it a challenge. Most men arent used to putting any real energy into listening. We coast right along, because most of the people we meet dont really want us to know them. They might say things, and we might say things back, but they arent trying to reveal their souls to us. And then, one day, we pledge our lives to a woman. And that woman wants us to feel, know, empathize with, and understand her right down to her core.
This is a good thing. God forbid the day ever comes when she closes herself off and stops trying to connect with you. Thats a potentially fatal moment, but it only happens if you insist on it.
Shell want you to listen. I mean, listen. So listen.
Regarding the opening post:
BEST advice I've ever heard/read, to give a man, young or old, before a marriage. It is, literally, a win-win proposition.
As stated, women don't generally need this advice, but, it could be a problem for a few.
Are you listening? :wink:
Loc: Western Kansas (No longer in hiding)
I think it has to go both ways; however, do feel women listen better. Could be self interest and prejudice there on my part.
I have to wonder about this listening thing. My first wife told me very early in our time together that I was really a good listener. My second wife also told me that and even seems to think I am listening to her when I am sitting here at this computer.
Well, now, you did notice that I said my first wife thought of me as a good listener but that must have not been so important, since she did divorce me although we had no real problems.
Your article has too much truth in it but I am not sure it really makes any difference, in the long run. As long as a woman is allowed to say her piece, the whole piece, I think she will be satisfied. If I am wrong my present 34 year old marriage may be in trouble. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
Excellent catch. Let me rephrase.
I have been married a longer number of years then oldroy.
It was not so much a 'catch', AuntiE, as a good-natured poke at you. :wink: :mrgreen:
To remain married that long, interminable patience, tolerance, and understanding is required, by each spouse. That is, along with listening! Both you, UncleE...and OldRoy (& wife), are to be admired. :thumbup:
Love completes the formula :!: I might add...a good sense of humor.
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