Healthy Leaders


Shut Up and Talk

Jess MacCallumJess MacCallum

I don’t think you will ever really get this, because I’ve been trying for well over twenty years and I don’t have it down. But you need to start somewhere, so here it is: You need to communicate with your new wife by learning to shut up. The things that you’ve talked about in the past will not be sufficient for your future together. The landscape has changed and new topics are coming. I want to emphasize that from now on expect “talking” to be unfairly weighted to her subjects.

In some ways, dating has misled us men on this point. Courtship conversations were romantic, spontaneous, exciting, and everything you said was interesting to her. You just knew she was the right girl because she made you feel so “listened to.” And it’s not that the romance ceases, although if it does slow down it will be entirely your fault when she brings the topic up . . . but I digress.

She has new topics coming online and you need to practice your shutting up skills. You must be prepared to value her interest in stuff that is hard to appreciate (commonly referred to as mind-numbingly boring). The good news is that your limited idea of topics has been abysmally devoid of interest for so long that she’s already able to accommodate you, so as a couple you are already halfway to good communication.

This new form of communication will be enriching to her as she gets to talk in journalistic detail about everything your new life together entails. You will be longing to tell her about your latest fantasy football pick. She will want to speculate on the new neighbors, relate an obscure childhood story of little relevance, or plan your fiftieth anniversary. You will be longing to tell her about the riding mower you sat on at Home Depot last Saturday. She will need to share a brand-new fear she has that no one in the history of rational thought has ever had. You will be dying to jump in and attempt to fix whatever issue she wants to talk through.

Simply shut up.

She will be bonding while she is talking. The smart husband will – and I know you will not get this any easier than I have – get her to talk more. Ask essay questions. I know the news is about to start, Monday night football looms on the horizon, your boss was in rare form, and the checkbook needs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – but start to ask questions. Don’t “fix” anything, because it’s not broken; at worst it’s healing. You don’t fix a bruise or cut, you nurse it. Your bride’s need to be heard is her way of letting you be the caretaker and confidant others used to be. You are the man now. So shut up and talk.

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