This is not to say you'll never have a conversation with your man that lasts longer than two minutes. We understand that sometimes we're going to have to give a little more in terms of communicating with you—that every now and then we're going to have to spill our guts and reveal what's going on in our heads. We also know that you may just want to lie in our arms and cuddle and talk it out with absolutely no resolution. We are capable of doing this, too. It's not easy. But it can be done. We know that sitting and listening and even participating in a long conversation about your feelings is necessary and inevitable. But don't be surprised if those conversations are few and far between. Detailed conversation is what you have with your girlfriends. Men just want to hear the problem and then fix it. It's about maintaining this balance—the two of you understanding exactly what each other requires to be innately happy, and then trying to provide at least some of that so that both mates feel like they're in this relationship with the other. For men, that means that every once in a while, they may have to sit and be still and just listen. For women, it would go a long way if they respected the encryption of manhood—that we're too focused on who we are, what we do, and how much we make to spend a whole lot of time sitting around pondering things that can't be fixed.
Of course, it would go a long way if women stopped opening the conversation with "we need to talk." The moment you say that, our defenses go up, the repair tools come out, the sweat starts rolling, and we're sprinting through the events of the past weeks, trying to figure out what we did wrong, when we did it, and how we're going to fix it so that we're not in trouble anymore.
In fact, I think it's a good idea that, if you just want to vent, you start the conversation with something simple, like, "Honey, look, nothing is really wrong—I just want to tell somebody something." That's a great opening line; it allows us to relax, take our foot down from the witness stand, put away our "fix it" tools, and actually sit and listen to what you have to say.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey. Published by HarperCollins Publishers. © 2009
Published on February 27, 2009