Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Can There Be Too Much Info In Our Marriage Talks?

My four-year-old grandson was finishing up his meal recently when he asked me if we could go play again. I suggested that he needed to eat up his food and then we could play. To which he promptly replied, "Well, we could multitask!"

Yes, us men are known for our penchant for doing several things at once: watching TV, reading the paper trying to talk to our spouse or whatever. However, a recent study suggests that women are actually better than men at multitasking. I don't know the parameters or other details of the study but that's really not that surprising a result when you look at other research.

John Gottman has suggested that in conversation with their wife, most men can easily become flooded if they receive too much emotional information to respond to at one time. He suggests that there is a physiological limit to a man's ability to process and when he reaches that limit he tends to shut down rather than engage in more dialogue.

And I would guess that most wives can identify certain times when this has happened.

Some women might wonder if men then will suggest they now have an excuse for not listening more or stonewalling. Well, guys, that won't work. Just giving up or getting quiet isn't the answer.

Instead, wives should first be sensitive to how much they try to drop on their husband about their feelings, circumstances, goals or whatever before giving their husband some time to respond. And then both husbands and wives would be wise to talk about what to do when a man feels this flooding of information. They should have a a strategy that works for them. Guys, at times you need to be willing to graciously say to your spouse that you need a few minutes to process or respond before moving on to another aspect of that topic or a different one altogether.

I know of some couples who take a 20-30 minute break and then come back and talk more. Others might just stop more quickly and talk about the one main item first before moving on to something else or adding more detail. Others may feel a need to write some things down as they talk so the man especially has a good overview of what's been talked about so far.

Whatever you do, don't miss out on this simple idea that may help ratchet up your communication skills. Keep your conversations from flooding each other. Don't overdo it or over-expect. Floods are usually dangerous.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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