3/30/15

The Most Important Questions A Husband Can Ask



A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short.
Andre Maurois
Let me start by saying how surprised I was with some of the results of the ongoing survey about social skills, specifically the fact that most of our readers are actually married. I was surprised mainly because most of the gentlemen I work with are either young men looking to define themselves or men looking to redefine themselves after a divorce. The survey is already bearing fruits.

That said, one of the main issues most spouses have, or at least the most common complaint about husbands, is the lack of communication and openness with their partner. This is perfectly understandable considering the work focused generation that came before us, men who closed themselves out, working from sun up to sun down while becoming absentee members of a family whose main purpose was that of a provider. Anyone who grew up within that environment knows what I’m talking about, a husband and a father figure who was more symbolic than in actual participation. The irony was most of these same husbands would then feel unappreciated or disconnected from the very family they shut out. If there is any question as to how much damage this lifestyle does to a man, consider that the highest rate of alcoholism and suicide within our society are men between 40-60 years old.

Society has changed as both men and women share the financial burden and the household chores. They both participate in raising children as men become every day more and more involved with their kid’s life. Yet, this defensive “shelling in” attitude that most men have, especially when speaking with their spouse, is still alive and well.

Considering that your significant other is basically your partner, the person whom you trust enough to spend your life with, how can you start opening up those channels of communications in an honest manner? You and your spouse should trust each other enough to be able to talk to each other, yet for some men it’s easier for them to deal with medieval torture than it is to deal with talking to their partner. Keep in mind that if you don’t trust your spouse to be open with them or your spouse doesn’t trust you, you have bigger issues than just communication.

So, how do you break that cycle of the "recluse man" society has ingrained into our psyche? It’s not easy, so I am not going to lie to you. Opening up to someone after so many years of shutting people out based on a self-preservation instinct is a challenge. Showing “weakness” (society has told men that openness IS weakness) to the very person you have to show how strong you are for them isn’t a simple task. There is a rather simple hack you can do to get the ball rolling, a trick you can try today if you want to.

At some point when you see your spouse today, place everything on hold. Make sure the kids are in bed (if you have kids), there is no impending crisis to be dealt with, and no other random interruption to pop up. Look at the person and ask them a simple question.
How was your day?
Then, listen. Listen intently at the person who you promised to spend the rest of your days with. Listen as if your relationship depended on it. Listen as if they were the only person in the world for that moment. Because the reality is, that your relationship depends on it. It depends on the fact that you care enough to actually care how they feel, what they go through every day, no matter how inconsequential anyone else might think it is.

“I love you” simply lets the other person know something. You are telling them about you. But a true sign of love isn’t about telling something to someone, but about caring enough to listen to someone.

While listening, DON’T try to give solutions. This isn’t about giving your opinion or trying to fix a problem. It’s about a person sharing who they are, opening up, to the person they will spend the rest of their days with.  And sooner than later, you will notice how you will be able to stand in front of your spouse and actually answer that question yourself.