Men are solution-based creatures. What I mean by this is: they have a strong urge to understand a problem and define a solution. If their car is making a strange sound, they'll determine where it's coming from, and how to fix it. This is how we work out 99% of our problems. Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on a relationship. As surprising as this may sound to some men: women are not cars. Our need to find a solution with a problem our spouse is having might not be the best avenue. Often, a woman doesn't need us to provide our opinion on what's wrong or how to fix it, they just need us to listen. This is almost the opposite of every instinct and habit a man takes a part in. He wants to fix things, he wants to help, get his hands dirty, and make sure everything is okay. Women, please understand, we don't have bad intentions when we try to help, it's just our nature.
So, to help the large amount of men completely baffled by why their girlfriend or wife is upset at them for trying to help, here are some guidelines to communicating and listening to your spouse when they are having trouble with an issue to create an effective and rational conversation.
1. Start with the Setting
No constructive conversation starts with you staring into a television or computer while your spouse tries to express how she's feeling. Sit down, cut distractions, and make eye contact. Showing that you're interested, ready to listen, and available is much more helpful to a situation then you'll ever know.
2. Listen and Show It
Often times, a woman doesn't need an equal conversation, they need to vent and for you to listen. Men are reclusive, we don't enjoy talking about our feelings and what's going on inside our heads. Newsflash to women, there's not that much going on in there anyway, we're simple creatures. When we have something to say, we say it. No need to investigate.
Women, however, need to vent to help understand what they're feeling. Often, it's not about letting you know what's happening inside their heads, it's about organizing it. I imagine the man's mind is like a chalkboard, everything we're feeling is written on the chalkboard. When we have a new thought, we erase the first thought and write the next one. If we want to elaborate, we make some notes underneath the big thought. We don't communicate the issues because we don't know the issue until we write it all out on the chalkboard. Once we do, we can clearly see what's happening. It's a game of time. Women's minds are much more like a drawer filled with papers, notes, napkins with thoughts scribbled on them and so forth. Communicating then is the woman taking each piece of paper out and reading it, setting it aside and organizing the drawer to better understand what all those pieces of paper mean.
It is the man's job to listen to this organizing, help encourage more investigation into that drawer, and to wait patiently as each thought is dissected.
3. Stop Offering Solutions, Start Asking Questions
To continue with the drawer metaphor: organizing the pieces of paper is a process that results in a solution. For a man to offer a solution halfway through the organization is counter-productive because it stops from finding the solution. How can you offer a solution to a problem that's only partially described?
Rather than trying to fix the problem, ask questions. Questions lead to the solution because they force as many pieces of paper from the drawer to be taken out and read. Asking questions also shows that you're listening. Although the questions can be very general, (How does this make you feel, why do you think this/that happened) you should also ask questions that relate directly to whatever situation the conversation entails.
4. Reassure Her
No matter what, you will always love your spouse and will always be there for her. A woman needs to hear this much more than you really think she does. Let her know this, show affection and reassure her that no matter how she feels or what she says, you will be there for her. If a woman feels insecure, she will hide her feelings. Rather than organizing the drawer, it's like shoving more and more paper into it and ultimately making it harder to organize the real issue. Don't let this happen, make sure your spouse feels secure enough to communicate what she's feeling with you. Let her know you're there for her and always respect her for the beautiful creature she is.