Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Learn How to Bridge the Connection from The Enlightened Marriage by Jed Diamond

Love and marriage are two of the greatest gifts life has to offer, yet too many marriages fail because couples don’t fully understand the five stages of relationships. Because most of us have had hurtful experiences in past relationships, often going back to childhood, we develop an inaccurate love map that causes us to get off track when the stresses of life increase.

For more than 40 years, Jed Diamond has been helping couples repair even the most damaged relationships and reweave the broken strands of marriage. Here we take a glimpse into his newest release The Enlightened Marriage.

“There are some skills you must have, some ways you must be, and some things you must learn or unlearn if you want to have a healthy, fulfilling and loving relationship. Jed Diamond's work in The Enlightened Marriage covers all of the ‘musts’ and then some.  What a blessing!”
Iyanla Vanzant, author of Trust: Mastering The Four Essentials. Host of Iyanla Fix My Life on OWN.

“I’ve known and appreciated Jed’s work for more than forty years. The Enlightened Marriage will be of great help for couples as well as singles who are looking for their soul-mate. It gives you the tools you need to succeed in love. It will be particularly helpful for people over forty, but everyone will learn things they didn’t know about men, women, sex, and love. I highly recommend this book.”
John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
"If you want more joy in your relationship, Jed Diamond can show you the way. Whether you are married and your relationship needs some help, or you are single and wanting to find real, lasting love, The Enlightened Marriage is the book for you.”
Chip Conley, New York Times bestselling author of Emotional Equations: Simple Truths for Creating Happiness 

Chapter 6 looks at one of the biggest issues of any couple, communication. Here we understand how to begin to bridge the great divide with an excerpt.

 I had an “aha” experience when I recognized that I talk very differently when I interact with my wife than when I’m talking to close male friends. When Carlin and I talk there’s a certain tension. Although we’ve learned to communicate better and better through the years, I feel like our interaction is more like speaking a second language, rather than what is natural to me. I sense the same is true for her as well.

When I overhear her talking with female friends on the phone, they seem to easily go back and forth talking, talking, talking. It seems to go on forever and doesn’t seem to have a point. When I talk to my friend Lanny and plan our next racquetball game it sounds like this:
Me: Hey, Lanny, we on for Tuesday?
Lanny: Yeah. Got it.
Me: See you then.
Lanny: Gonna kick your butt, my friend.
Me: Not a chance.
That’s it. Clean, clear, quick, and easy.

When I’m talking with a group of my buddies, we often joke, compete, and put each other down in playful ways. We can talk seriously, but there’s also a lot of playful competition as we let each other know …“I’m top dog. No, I’m top dog!”

I never really understood the difference until I read a book called Duels and Duets: Why Men and Women Talk So Differently by John L. Locke, a linguistics professor at City University of New York. Although we often focus on difficulties in communicating between men and women, much less focus has been placed on same-sex communication. Locke has found that the way we talk is not just driven by various cultural norms, but by deep-seated, evolutionary-based, sex differences.

Step 1: Understand that males duel while females duet
“In birds and mammals, including the other primates,” says Locke, “sexually mature males are prone to contend with each other in highly public vocal displays that are aggressive or ‘agonistic’ in nature.” He describes these male type communications as “duels.”

“In many primate species, sexually mature females have an equally strong disposition to affiliate with other females in more private and intimate circumstances,” says Locke. He describes these female-type communications as “duets.”

When men and women come together they often employ communication styles that are appropriate to their own sex and difficulties often arise. See if you recognize some of these male-type communication traits:

  •  They interrupt each other.
  •  They issue commands, threats, or boasts.
  • They resist each other’s demands.
  • They give information.
  • They heckle.
  • They tell jokes.
  • They try to top another’s story.
  • They insult or denigrate each other.

Likewise, consider these female-type communication traits:
  • They agree with other speakers.
  • They yield to other speakers.
  • They acknowledge points made by other speakers.
  • They try and be polite.
  • They cooperate.
  • They collaborate.
  • They empathize.
  • They listen.

Of course, as with all male/female differences, these aren’t totally separate categories. Many men communicate more toward the female style and many women more toward the male style. We don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that “all men communicate this way” and “all women communicate that way.” However, these differences can help us accept our own gender-specific style and help us better understand the other sex.

When my wife and I are having difficulties communicating, she often accuses me of interrupting her and not letting her finish her thought. I accuse her of taking too long to get to the point. Communication that is comfortable to me is either short and to the point, or rapid-fire back and forth that is familiar with my male friends.

Why Is This Important? 
Men are not aware of “women-only talk” and women are not aware of “men-only talk.” I’m never there when my wife is talking to her women friends alone, and she’s never in my men’s group. As a result we each believe that real communication is the type we are familiar with and believe that communication would improve if only our partner would learn to listen and speak the way we do. Further, since women are generally more comfortable with verbal communication the female style has come to be viewed as “the right way to communicate.” As a result, men often talk less and less and women assume men are not interested in “communicating.” Understanding the purpose and value of sex-specific styles can help us appreciate ourselves and our partner more fully. As we’ll see, it can also help us appreciate an honor both “male talk” and “female talk.”

Step 2: Appreciate that male/female talk has strong evolutionary roots

Our communication styles are not just culture specific and easily modified. They evolved over millions of years to allow males and females to survive and thrive. Male talk and female talk are as different as they are because ancestral men and women competed for the things they needed in two fundamentally different ways.

Imagine that you are living as your ancestors did 500,000 years ago. If you were a man you spent a good deal of time hunting. You walked on animal trails away from the main camp. You had to be quiet, communicating with hand-signals, head and eye movements, and short phrases. If you were a woman you stayed closer to camp, gathered food in an area close to camp, and dealt with noisy children while talking with female friends and relatives.

During thousands of years of our evolutionary history, men and women faced somewhat different challenges that enabled us to survive and reproduce. As we saw in chapter 2, male genes, bodies, brains, and hormones differ from those of females. It’s not surprising that our communication styles and strategies also differ.

Why Is This Important? 
If we don’t understand that differences are part of our evolutionary strategy of survival we tend to devalue the way the other sex communicates. I often hear my women clients complain that their man doesn’t communicate with them. What they really mean is that he doesn’t talk to her in ways that are familiar to her. When I point out he is communicating all the time, but perhaps with actions rather than words, she can better understand him. Further, when we can appreciate our differences we can recognize that they can be complementary. Locke says that these different strategies can cause men and women to clash when they communicate with each other. “The paradox,” says Locke, “is that these same modes of speaking make it possible for males and female partners to mesh in their lives.”

Step 3: Learn to speak the language of the other sex

Throughout evolutionary history men spent a lot of time with other men, and women spent time with other women. There was an appreciation of the different roles and communication styles of the other. Now we spend more time together in work and in family interaction. As a result, we need to learn to speak the other’s language and to be able to understand them when they speak.

For starters, we need to recognize the importance of nonverbal communication. Words aren’t the only means of communication and they may, in fact, be the least common. In her studies on gender differences in language use, Deborah Tannen estimates that as much as 90 percent of all human communication is nonverbal, including hand and eye movements, tone of voice, body posture, and so on.  Women, as a group, are more fluent verbally, though as is true of all these sex differences, there are exceptions to the rule. In our society we’ve tended to look at female-type communication as the rule and viewed male-type communication as juvenile or less real. What’s more, we often don’t recognize that we have a bias, so both women and men will often view female-style communication that is emotional, empathic, cooperative, and polite as “real communication.” Male-type communication that is unemotional, analytic, commanding, and joking is seen as “less valuable.”

Just as learning a foreign language can help us expand our understanding of other cultures and allows us to understand and communicate with others, so too can learning the foreign language of the other sex. There are times when female-type talk can be very helpful to both women and men. There are other times when male-type talk is most helpful. If we think of becoming bilingual rather than getting the other to learn our style because it’s the right way to communicate, we will all be happier and enjoy a better love life.

Jed Diamond,PhD, is one of the world’s leading experts on mid-life relationships. His books Surviving Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places have met with world-wide acclaim and been translated into more than 16 languages. He is a member of the International Society of Men’s Health and a founding member of the American Society of Men’s Health. He blogs for ThirdAge, Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and is the only male columnist for the National Association of Baby Boomer Women. Diamond has been featured on The View, Good Morning America, Today Show, CNN-360 with Anderson Cooper, CBS, NBC, and Fox News. He lives in Willits, CA.

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