Connected communication really is a new paradigm for men.
Women are experienced in connected communication and have been doing it for centuries around the fire pit then in the kitchen and now over the phone with the best friend.
This isn’t the same for the men in our lives.
You might be wondering what I mean by connected communication. It’s the times when you have a chat with your partner and they really hear you. You aren’t talking about work, the kids or the bills. You are opening your heart and sharing a piece of yourself with them. You might feel a bit vulnerable yet they hold that space for you. That is connected communication. It may happen in the briefest of moments or it might be over a long dinner.
Our connected communication just hasn’t been happening for a while.
This year has taken its toll on us, particularly our marriage and, for the first time, we’ve had to seek outside help to get us back on track.
It’s no-ones fault. Life just happened. It started when we became parents. Then at 4 months my father-in-law died suddenly and something in my husband changed. Having a child that didn’t sleep and myself being attached to a pump around the clock to feed him didn’t help.
But it was this last year that has had it’s biggest toll. Living in two different countries doesn’t help. With pressure of no work for my husband, writing job applications, talking about our son and him working on his degree really hasn’t left much time for us and we have both forgotten what we talk about when we drop all the labels and it’s just us.
I started to think about my expectations of my husband. What I wanted from a relationship in terms of communication.
At first I didn’t think it was that much. I just want him to connect with me.
I would like to ring him and not to hear him tapping away at computer doing his degree while talking to me. Just 5 minutes a day to be really heard by him. For him to stop everything and just be with me and hear me, the real me.
Not that much right?
But then I looked at it from his perspective and it’s not an easy thing.
He’s living away from his family, in another country so we have to deal with time zone issues, working 50+ hours a week to provide and studying his degree while applying for jobs at home. Even if he was the most connected communication skills, it’s not easy.
I started to think about our family history. The history of the men in our lineage and particularly his and that is when it dawned on me.
He really is the first male in his family line to even attempt a connected conversation.
So on top of everything going on in his day-to-day life, I’m asking him to do something he’s never had role modeled.
That he never experienced up until our relationship.
He was 31 when we became a couple. He has told me in all his previous relationships connected communication didn’t happen.
And here I am giving this guy a hard time for not connecting with me.
His father is one of 12 children from a very large Irish family. His paternal line doesn’t have a history of communicating for connection in relationships. It’s just not there. Communication was for survival. The men worked and provided and the girls tended to the home and took care of everyone.
It’s much more natural for the women his family to connect then it is for the men.
My husband’s family isn’t unique in this. This generation of men are the first to be asked to connect through their communication with their partners.
It’s new to them. It can be awkward and tricky for them.
Understanding this has made me take a step back and see it through his eyes.
I want to share with you my number one strategy that can create connected communication.
Tips if you have this challenge:
Step 1: Step into their shoes for a moment.
Step in and feel what they are feeling in that moment. It doesn’t take very long to get a sense. Are they tired, frustrated or overwhelmed?
Step 2: Give it a voice and acknowledge
The conversation goes something like this
Me: “you seem really tired”
Justin: “yep. I’ve only just finished work, another 11 hour day, I have to work on my assignment due this weekend and I won’t get to bed until midnight again.”
Me: “wow, I’d be really tired too if I had worked all day and had to come home to my assignment”
Justin: “yes I am. How are you babe?”
If only I could I get the tone in my writing. Something magic happens after I simply acknowledge how he’s feeling. He’s whole energy changes because I’ve acknowledged him. He’s got it off his chest and not in the way I would. He doesn’t need an hour long phone call with his best friend, a family block of chocolate or a bottle of wine. He just needs a simple statement knowing he is heard.
Then he is ready to listen to me.
It’s like magic.
Listen to the audio below where I explain the strategy further and provide some more tips.
When I first learnt this strategy I was working teaching 12 year olds. I had some boys in my class who found the education system a challenge. Constantly in fights and emotionally shutting down which meant they simply could not focus on school work after a lunch break. This one technique changed everything in my classroom. No suspensions that year and children who were engaged.
So I took it home. And it made a dramatic difference to my relationship.
I’d love to hear how you go with it.
Helena Ryan lives in Brisbane Australia with her husband, son and border collie. When she’s not working she’s reading books, going camping or bushwalking or playing diggers with her son in the sandpit. She loves to garden and travel. She has served in the Australian Army and spent a decade as a Primary School Teacher. In 2011 she helped her husband clear his cancer, a 6x4x2” tumour around his lungs.
P.S. If this resonated with you, I work with female entrepreneurs from all around the world to identify how their ancestral lineage is impacting their business and their personal life. Find out how your Ancestral Lineage is impacting your journey and spend 45 minutes with me for $125 AUD or connect with me on my Facebook Page.