Have you ever had one of those fights where, in the aftermath, neither one of you can figure out why you started fighting in the first place?
Last week, in the 631 newsletter, I shared a personal story about one of those fights and the specific takeaways I learned. We also discussed what to do so that your relationship remains focused on your husband’s positive qualities and lovable traits, even when you’re arguing.
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Today, I’m sharing another valuable lesson I’ve learned about being happy in your marriage.
Say What You Want Not What You Think They Want
How many times have you heard, “I don’t know what you want!”?
Wives everywhere have their husbands in a deadlock, eyes wide, mouth open. A small stamp of the foot as they thrust their hand in the direction of the offense. They stare at their husbands, silent, internally fuming, “Do I have to say it?!?”
The husband, stares back, bewildered. Eyes just as wide, a little frightened at the heat coming at him. He blinks, as if to say, “Yes, you do!”.
Here’s the thing. Men are obvious.
When they say, “What do you want to do?”, it usually means, “What do you want to do?”.
When a woman asks a man, “What do you want to do?”, it can have multiple meanings – one of which might be, “I want to go shopping by myself and I’m really hoping you don’t care because you’re driving me nuts and I need a freakin break.”
This is why, when a man asks a woman, “What do you want to do?”, she starts trying to figure out what he wants to do, instead of just answering the question…because that’s what she does.
In the end, the guy throws up several possible scenarios and his girl picks one…he thinks everything is fine, she’s pissed.
What Just Happened?
Let me break it down for you.
1. Paul asks Roxy what she wants
2. Roxy asks Paul what he wants
3. Paul just wants to know what Roxy wants
4. Roxy wants to do her own thing but wants to make sure Paul doesn’t care
5. Roxy asks Paul what he wants
6. Paul, annoyed, offers several suggestions of things Roxy might like to do
7. Roxy, picks one, annoyed it wasn’t the thing she wanted to do
8. Paul thinks Roxy is happy she is getting what she wants
9. Roxy thinks Paul is happy he is getting what he wants
10. Fight ensues because no one is getting what they want
It looks ridiculous all out there in black and white and everything. But how many times have you had this fight?
Hands in the air.
Isn’t it ironic how good intentions can turn bad quickly? Both of you just want to make the other person happy and before you know it, you’re Paul and Roxy, arguing about nothing…and everything.
Here’s a tip: if you want something to happen, you have to tell your husband exactly what it is.
Trust me – he doesn’t know.
And he doesn’t want you to tell him what you think he wants. (Chances are good, you’re wrong anyway.)
On the flipside, if you already know what you want, don’t ask him what he wants to do. Instead say, “I want to do this. Do you mind?”.
I often get told how lucky I am that my husband is so supportive. And maybe some of it is luck. But a lot of it is because I support the things he wants to do.
Our relationship is reciprocal. We make an effort to be completely honest with each other about what we want and need. And we both know and expect that the other person will do their best to accommodate those things.
But every couple fights. In my experience, it usually starts because neither of us is being clear about what we want. And then, in an attempt to give the other person what they need, we both guess and get it wrong.
So the next time your husband asks, “What do you want to do?”, tell him.
Chances are good, you just might get what you want.
Now it’s your turn. What lessons have you learned about communicating with your husband? Share them with us in the comments below!