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 ofTrust: 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
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,
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 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.
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
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.”
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.