Anyone who has ever met my wife probably had the same instant reaction: “Wow, does she talk fast!” It’s true, she does. Luckily, although she married a quiet guy, I can follow her almost 100% of the time because of the way my brain works. We fit in that regard. But like most men and women, conversation could have been a big struggle for us, mainly because of me. I just don’t talk a lot—certainly not in comparison to her! So what we have done is, from the outset, recognize that this need of Bethany’s to communicate is important, and time must be made for it to happen. Not always successful, certainly harder since the children have arrived, but we still try to make time.
Some of the things we’ve learned over the years:
- I am extremely thoughtful in my speech. I try to choose my words carefully, so I don’t always respond right away to something. In an argument, this can be even worse, because I really don’t want to say something I might regret. Even what is only a few seconds can seem like an eternity to Bethany. She has learned to wait for me, even if it’s killing her inside.
- Bethany processes her thoughts verbally. She sometimes has to spend a while hour flipping out about something before she realizes the situation is not that bad. I’ve learned to wait it out, and try not to get “logical” with her. I know I have the same feelings and thoughts sometimes, they’re just in my head; she says them out loud. We’re the same, just different.
- While Bethany certainly loves to share her own thoughts, she feels closer to me when I share things I am passionate about. That means that she has to hear about things she may not be all that interested in (the fantasy world of video games and novels I sometimes live in), but because she is interested in me, she listens. And I do the same for her.
- Having things in common is important for conversation, as Harley suggests. We share a love of Science Fiction TV shows and movies, witty high-brow comedy, and of course our faith, so there is much to talk about. Also, although we individually write in very different genres, we love to talk about our works with each other, and help each other in the process.
In all, Bethany’s strong need for conversation is known, and for the most part, met. But it is an ongoing process of making sure it happens.
Every marriage needs conversation. It’s how we maintain the ties between us. Most couples will remember being able to talk about anything together when they were dating. But after marriage and especially after children this gets much harder.
Quality conversation is definitely one of my love languages, it’s considered kind of a dialect of Quality Time. I also process verbally so often when Rob and I are talking it’s actually helping me to figure out how and think and feel about a particular issue.
In the next chapter the author will begin talking about the importance of shared recreational activities and he begins to talk about it here under the guise of shared interests. He believes that for a couple to continue to have things to talk about and avoid growing apart they must have shared interests. I both agree and disagree with this. I do think it is important that couples take an interest in things they are each passionate about, but I don’t think good conversation necessarily requires mutual interest so much as mutual willingness.
My husband is a computer programmer. I am not very gifted in this area, and it takes a lot of concentration for me to understand what he’s talking about. But when he has a project he is passionate about I listen and participate in the conversation; sometimes asking questions, but mostly showing my interest. Not my interest in computers but my interest in him. He is my priority. Now, if it were important to him that I learn more about computers so that we could share that interest, I would. In fact in some ways I have. He has introduced me to some amazing computer games that I have grown to enjoy. But something I will talk more about next week, is the difference between introverts and extroverts and how they prefer to spend their leisure time. For now I’ll simply say that my husband and I talk about things that each other is passionate about, but we don’t necessarily participate in all of each other’s activities, and I think that this is OK.
As a woman, the main purpose of conversation is a way to share our lives, even when we can’t be together as much as we’d like. I tell Rob funny stories about things the kids have done during the day or ideas I have thought of. It is a time for us to reconnect and make sure everything is OK between us. If we find that we don’t have much to talk about, then we know we need to spend more time together. There was a period after our daughter was born when we hardly slept and spent almost no time alone. Our relationship was suffering on many levels. My husband was in school and working full time, but was unhappy at both and therefore didn’t want to talk about either one. Then he starting writing his first novel. As a writer myself, we now had something to talk about. Even though we write in totally different genres and have different styles to our writing; we had something to bond over. This helped us get through a difficult time in our lives.
Just like any of the other needs we’ve discussed so far, it comes down to priorities. If, as a man, you know that conversation is important to your wife then you will make it a priority. If you don’t know what to talk about, ask your wife. Ask questions about each other’s days that require more than yes or no answers. Give her details about the people, events and problems that you encounter. Let her feel like she matters to you by taking the time to tell her what is going on in your mind and heart and be willing to listen to her in return. It is a significant investment in time and effort, but it helps to create an emotional closeness that will help carry you through times when you can’t talk as often as you’d like.