Watering Your Partner

I'm guilty of second degree murder. I have, without pre-meditation (actually with NO meditation), killed many green plants. I either over water them or forget to water them. As a result, they suffer root rot or dehydration. I've learned from 33 years of marriage that communication in marriage is like watering plants. Both too much and too little can kill a relationship.

In marriage preparation classes that I have led for engaged couples I take a survey in which one of the "Agree/Disagree" statement is: “I wish my partner were more willing to share his/her feelings with me.” Every woman has answered this question “Agree” and nearly every man has answered this question “Disagree”. In three years of administering the survey I can’t remember anyone marking “Undecided.” Apparently most women desire their men to talk more while most men have all the communication they want.

Why is this? I think Dave Barry was on to something when he wrote:

What women want:
  • Words of expressive love
  • Meaningful conversation
  • Physical affection
  • A growing sense of intimacy
What men want:
  • Tickets to the Super Bowl
It’s not quite that stark, but it’s not far from the truth. Women seem to be more motivated than men to seek and grow relationships. They desire friendships and are willing to work at them. They long for connection with their spouse and will invest heavily to achieve that. Men want companionship too, but more often than not it’s companionship while doing something else: playing tennis, working on a project, going to the Super Bowl. Although there are exceptions, of course, women tend to be more relationship oriented while men tend to be more accomplishment oriented. It’s not sexist to say so, it’s just fact.

Which leads us back to the question why do women always answer “agree” and men always answer “disagree” when asked "Do you wish your partner were more willing to share his/her feelings with you?"

Part of this mystery is wrapped up in the reality that women share their feelings more often and easily than men. Most of the engaged women who take the survey say “I just want to know what’s going on inside him!“ To which most of the men reply “Nothing’s going on.“ Women cannot believe this is true but I tell you, ladies, from personal experience, it really is. Often guys are not thinking about anything in particular (except maybe the Super Bowl). It’s not that we’re hiding our feelings or thoughts from you--we just don't spent much time dwelling on them. It’s not that we’re insensitive slobs (okay, it’s not just that we are insensitive slobs!) our brain is simply not keyed into seeking out or giving relationship information like yours.

So what’s the practical application of this revelation? Women: don’t get overly frustrated with your man if he doesn’t share his inner feelings. Chances are, he may not have any at that moment. Remember while you seek and want to share this kind of information, your man probably does not. Be careful you don’t “drown” your man with too much “feeling talk”. Overdoing it is like over-watering a plant. Avoid root rot in your relationship.

Men: like it or not, you’re going to have to open up! You may actually have to think about what you’re feeling and articulate it in out-loud, verbal expressions rather than your usual grunts and shrugs. Think of words as water for your relationship with your woman; without verbalizing your thoughts and feelings, the relationship will dry up and shrivel like a neglected plant. You’re going to have to talk a little bit more and share your thoughts and feelings with your woman. That’s one aspect of the give and take in a male/female relationship.

Willingness to share feelings is like water to a plant. Too much will drown it. Too little will dehydrate it. Just the right amount of watering will make the plant thrive and your relationship will too.

Author: Jim Priest

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