It's not as if you always need to know how your husband feels about you or his childhood or his purpose here on earth. And it's not as if you want to spend hours on the phone with your dad, uncle, brothers or old college friends. Sometimes you just want one of them to weigh the merits of salad spinners. To help open the lines of communication between you and the men you love, we interviewed three experts to find the most effective ways to get them talking.
Approach him from the side.
Walking straight up to a man and sitting down directly across from him can trigger his competitive instincts, says executive coach Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, who counsels business leaders on nonverbal communication. She says that while women prefer talking to each other in a "squared up" position (i.e., across from each other), two men talking casually are more likely to angle their bodies away from each other. You'll have a better chance of getting your dad to talk about his golf game by doing dishes with him at the sink or plopping down next to him on the couch.
Go for a walk, or play a game of tennis.
Women are usually more comfortable than men with the idea that spending time together will involve talking, says Diane Gehart, PhD, professor of marriage and family therapy at California State University, Northridge. A lot of that has to do with how we spent time with other kids when we were young. "Many men learned to develop connections through shared activities," says Gehart. As boys, they bonded while engaging in sports, playing video games or skateboarding; girls took part in sleepover gossip-a-thons. For evidence that these roles have carried over to adulthood, count the groups of women versus men the next time you go for brunch (an event that revolves around eggs, coffee and face-to-face chatter). Another reason that talking while walking—or hiking or driving—can be easier for you both is that it provides ready-made conversation fodder. For example, "Did you see that deer?" or "Did you see that Prius?"
Wait until you can actually hear each other before starting the conversation.
Yes, we just said to do activities together. And we're not advising you to stay away from sports bars or rock concerts. (Your instincts to meet him on his home turf are right on: That's where he hangs out with his friends.) But most men don't do much catching up at these places, at least until the game or the show is over, so you can't really expect to engage him until then either.
Next: Getting him to answer your questions