Whether you are communicating with a man or a ‘developing man’ (aka your son), there are certain ways that they respond to and certain ways that switch them off, which I've found to be largely universal for all men.
So after having listened to my husband’s responses in this weeks podcast, where I interview him on birth and intimacy afterwards, I’m reminded of just how important the way we approach them is. Consequently, I thought I'd share what I've learnt in communicating with the masculine.
Masculine communication basic 6:
1. Approach them only when you are feeling ‘centred and aligned’, not worked up, defensive and angry.
Once you’ve got yourself online and worked out what you really need, you know what to ask for and how to provide this toolkit to your partner.
That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss what’s upsetting you, but first get yourself on line by asking yourself quality questions:
- What about this situation has your blood boiling or has you feeling hurt or rejected?
- Is this an old wound for you? Have you encountered this type of feeling with men, partnerships or relationships before? When? How old were you? Can you trace this pattern back even further? So is ‘he’ the problem, or is this situation highlighting itself to you for growth and healing?
- What do you need to give yourself that you didn’t receive in the past? When you know what this is, then you know how to ask for what you emotionally need, not what is a surface wanting. This is the toolkit you bring to your relationship. Now you are ready to have this discussion.
2. Ask them for time to discuss ……(insert issue). Tell them what you want to discuss! Don’t leave them nervous and guessing or anxious trying to ‘read between the lines’, which often leads to defensiveness or apathy because ‘they have no idea’.
Be gentle in your approach, this is exactly the time to use your feminine seductiveness – open up your heart space (physically and psychologically), be vulnerable and soft.
Let them know roughly how long the conversation will take and to let you know when they’re ready.
This is the gem I learnt from The Queens Code, where author Alison Armstrong talks about men’s single focus; they build enough testosterone up to be able to expend it ‘achieving’ an outcome. That task and outcome can be as simple as getting lunch and eating, to fixing the dripping tap, to changing a nappy or playing with the kids – ONE task, but the focus and intention they bring to that one task is often something we as women struggle to bring, so don’t judge it, love it.
If we ‘interrupt’ them mid-task with our ‘important’ issue, we’re hijacking they’re single focus and then they’re being forced to do what is not innate within them; to split their focus. This results in sub-par results. Either they get agitated because they’re been stopped from ‘achieving’ or providing, or their focus is not really on either task and we feel like they’re not listening tor responding in the way we would like; cue our old feelings of rejection or defensiveness, and on the cycle goes. So break the cycle by loving your differences and choosing to work with it.
3. Affirmation. Call it positive behaviour modification, but we all do well with validation and affirmation. The more verbal you can be, the more they will 'repeat' an action you like and 'highlight'. Remember they can't read between the lines or pick up on your subtle cues, so be direct and honest!
This is my next biggest tip. Men are hard-wired to be providers, to provide an outcome (don’t forget the single focus and the build and spend testosterone cycle). When you see your man single focused on providing an outcome and they achieve that desired outcome, let them know you see it! Let them know you appreciate what they have provided by telling them what they did and the effect it has on you; what doing that provides you.
So, if you want change, or you want to enhance something they already do, tell them specifically what that action is/was and what it provided you with:
- How does it make you feel when they do that?
- What do these feeling lead on to for you? What do you make it mean?
- What does you feeling this way bring ‘back’ to them? How does it make you want to open up or respond differently to your man?
So get verbal and really let them know you see them providing for you in all sorts of different ways every single day!
4. Be explicit in communicating your needs, give them YOUR 'recipe'. Don’t leave them guessing, be explicit in what you emotionally or physically need – give them the exact toolkit for loving/soothing/meeting your needs.
Like a recipe, tell them exactly the 'ingredients' that have you feeling loved, heard and respected and the exact 'method' on how you need them delivered; what you need said and done etc. Don't forget to speak to the provider and tell them the exact effect this has on you!
Tip: They really can’t read between the lines or pick up on your subtle cues. A great relationship is built on incredibly vulnerable and specific communication, without venom.
5. Don’t expect a deep and meaningful conversation with direct eye contact every single time.
Sometimes it’s what you need and you can be specific and explicit in your communication – tell him exactly what you need and how you need it. Give him the toolkit for holding your space and how to ‘not provide a solution, but instead provide holding space to release’.
However, sometimes the masculine responds best to the ‘small and irrelevant’ conversations – you know the ‘casual’ ones you have when you’re both busy doing a job together, like washing the dishes or walking the baby in the pram.
Having their focus on a task often relaxes their nervous system enough that they can take in exactly your tone and intent, without the added pressure of providing 'holding your space'. All of the above ways of communicating still apply, but you can also add a layer of humour as long as its not ‘castrating’ them; aka ‘taking them down’ a peg or two, making them feel small or irrelevant, degrading what they are providing or how they are providing it.
6. Don’t assume. Do ask (ask, don’t tell).
This is the golden rule for everything. Don’t assume he knows what you are thinking, feeling, wanting, needing or how you want or need it.
Tell him! Breathe into your cringy-gut feeling and just get it done. Say it, get it out there and breathe afterwards. You’ll be surprised what comes back to you and what he’s willing to take on board.
Don’t assume you know how he is feeling and what he is thinking.
Our perceptions and expectations are based on OUR old wounds, stories and meanings WE’VE attached to our story. Our intimate partnerships are perfectly designed to ‘highlight’ our own wounds for healing. As women we can tend to attach an enormous amount of meaning and already 'decided' in our minds how things will proceed, what he’s feeling or thinking and that 'play' in our head stops us from entering any awkward or vulnerable situations and conversations and therefore from ever really finding out what they truely think or feel.
This is a genius of our own psyche. Our 'story' that prevents us from discovering anothers truth or reality 'saves' us. Staying in our story (aka comfort zone, even when it's painful) saves us from leaning into our own discomfort. Basically it reinforces our own story and keeps us safe from the rejection or pain we've come across from our past.
Growing up with your relationship is being willing to open up to the fact that it is entirely possible what you’re thinking is going on, is not AT ALL what is going on for him. So ask him. Use an “I statement” – “When you say/do…. I automatically start thinking..... and then I feel..... and then I..... (insert effect this produces in your behaviour). Is that what’s going on for you?” Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to fully LISTEN to his response, the verbal and non-verbal and don't be afraid to keep using this statement in response to his response until you understand his truth and feel both vulnerable and connected again.
Be willing to let go of your story, your partner is perfectly designed to help you do this.
If you are seeking a stronger, deeper relationship then join us for our Loathing to Loving online program, where we walk you through a toolkit for bringing awareness to your own stories and healing what's holding you back. Working on yourself transforms the way you see your partner, yourself and your relationship.
Photo by Charli Marden Photography and Design
Julie Tenner is Co-founder of Nourishing The Mother and is The Pleasure Nutritionist. Julie is a Naturopath, specialising in women’s and children's health, with specific focus on awakening women to their full potential – health for the mind, body and soul – creating lasting life change for you and your family by “coming home” to your magnificence.