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Jul 26

How to talk “the talk”

Posted on Monday, July 26, 2010 in Honesty, Men, Relationships, Women

Sean had done something that pissed me off.

It wasn’t a big thing, it was just a “thing.”

Actually, I’m not even so sure if I was pissed off or mildly annoyed or whether it spoke to a deeper insecurity or just a relationship burp.

Now, I’ve learned that when I feel that way about something and I’m not exactly sure why I feel that way, it’s best not to say anything, at least immediately; better to think about it and understand what’s the “thing” behind the “thing.”

So, that was my unspoken plan when my cellphone rang.

“Hi!”

It was Sean.         

“Hi back” I said.

“What’s wrong?”

Busted! Good God, am I that transparent?

Evidently.

Now that I was stripped bare (and not in the good way), I had to say something. As all guys know, when a woman says “Nothing,” it doesn’t mean everything’s OK; actually, it means there’s a huge problem.

So, I came clean, kinda: “Well, I was upset by something you did and I’ve struggled all day wondering if I should say something to you and if I was going to say something, how I was going to say it to you without sounding like I was crazy or insecure because it’s the kind of thing that could be misconstrued as
something crazy or insecure but I have feelings about it so I’m not sure how to ask you this.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone, a long, deep silent silence, one that made my heart pound like I’d had a triple espresso  — intravenously — and my head hurt as if I were surviving on two hours of sleep after a night of mixing cheap red wine with bad vodka at a heavy metal concert.

That bad.

After what felt like an hour had passed, he finally spoke.

“What are you talking about?”

I detected a slight annoyance.

Beyond that, well, it was a good question; what was I talking about indeed? But, even if I’d figured out just what was behind the “thing” and decided, yeah, this was a fundamental disconnect that we needed to address, I know in my heart that that’s just not the way to talk about it with Sean, or any man for that matter.

And, so instead of an exploratory questioning of whether my feelings were valid or not, we were facing a potential relationship “crisis.”

Not to stereotype, but guys really need to have the issue presented before them ASAP — spotlighted, highlighted, underlined and frontloaded. In other words, get to the friggin’ point. Now.

Not us women, however. If you lay it all out on the line without first setting the mood and making us feel secure and loved, then whatever the issue is, no matter how small, it’s going to take over our thoughts, dietary choices and girls’ night conversations. In other words, we will obsess.

OK, I’m making generalities, but still.

Yet, I get confused. My kid tells me all the time that I’m guilty of wasting his precious teenage minutes by going on and on with unnecessary back story, irrelevant ramblings and nagging monologues. But if I cut to the quick — “Make your bed!” — then he sees it as being disrespectful.

Sean, too. When I’ve come right out and said something that upset or bothered me, he’ll sometimes get defensive, which of course shuts down any hope of open-minded listening and thus communication. Even when I’ve started with the oft-lauded “I” word. I felt bad when …

I don’t think we can take for granted how our partner needs to have a “talk” just because of his or her gender. We just might have to ask — how would you like me to talk to you about something that’s an “issue”?

Of course, I did ask Sean exactly that once. As usual, he was honest.

“I’d rather you didn’t.”

Well, that’s one way to deal with it!

  • Guys, do you really want us to get to the point, and then be done with it?
  • Gals, do you want the same, or do you need your partner to make you feel secure first?
  • How much of relationship talk is much ado about nothing?

More “talky” stuff:

Girl talk: It isn’t all about feelings

My “yes dear” relationship

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