“Men are from Mars; women are from Venus.” How many times have we heard this phrase? And yet, it still seems to ring true, doesn’t it?
Everyone knows the stereotypes for each sex; the woman nags, the man lazes on the sofa; she witters for hours on the phone about nothing; he only talks when he’s cursing the referee and so on. But are they actually true?
For the most part, these generalizations could just be a shallow view of different communication styles. The ways a couple communicates are frequent causes for concern and there are a few common problems which reoccur, time and time again.
The Maximizer and The Minimizer
In most relationships, a couple will often take on different roles to balance their needs and the same is true in their communication. One takes on the role of the minimizer while the other takes on the role of the maximizer.
The minimizer (usually the male) will put up their defenses and keep their opinions to themselves. This is done to avoid conflict, but it can have the opposite effect, frustrating and angering the maximizer, who frequently wants to talk about their relationship.
As a direct result of the maximizer and minimizer conflict, it can be all too easy for the maximizer (usually the female) to talk ‘at’ their partner, rather than ‘with’ them. When this happens, it is extremely easy for subtle, negativity to slip into the monologue and for the listener to stop listening completely.
If he is struggling to engage, due to a fear of emotional exchanges, it is important to show a positive attitude in communication, asking questions and waiting for the answer. This will help encourage talking as a safe exercise, paving the way for more emotional subjects, at a later date.
The Brick Wall
This is not to say that everything should rest on the her shoulders and he can help improve communication, too. If they feel like they’re receiving too much information and they can’t process it, then they can calmly ask for clearer and more concise instructions.
If the maximizer requires a listener, then the minimizer can pre-empt their need and ask them questions. Simple queries into their day and their thoughts can show that you understand their need to talk and can help avoid issues arising.
Sometimes, simply by making yourself available to your partner, a level of futility can be erased and the associated stress can disappear.
Post by Anthony from Janet Stones Counselling, specialists in CBT and integrated counselling, based in the Herefordshire area.