We have been looking at Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and specifically at how husbands can show love to their wife.  Dr. Eggerichs uses 6 basic areas to express how a husband can do this and they follow the letters C-O-U-P-L-E.  We have made it to U and this is my third post on Understanding.

So, I am not a big talker.  I can be perfectly happy not talking for hours at a time.  I don’t mind talking or being a part of an active conversation but talking is not something I feel like is necessary to energize me or destresses me. 

My wife is very much a talker.  She loves to express what is going on and how she is feeling.  For her, she talks to work out her feelings, talks to release her emotions, talks to communicate with me, and talks to connect with me. 

So, while sometimes these two extremes can make it hard for us to find areas that make us both feel comfortable around each other, it is important for me to understand that my willingness to listen to her and tell her about some of my feelings is vitally important to our relationship. 

Dr. Eggerichs describes this as, “Talking is when women report to build rapport.”  There is a connection that a wife gets by being able to share about her day and then having your day shared with her that lets her know that things are alright and that she is loved.  For a wife, sharing about her day is a way to let go of her emotions and destress.  Dr. Eggerichs describes this as a tea kettle.  A wife takes in feelings, emotions, and baggage throughout a day and stuffs it in her tea kettle and as the day goes along the pressure in that tea kettle begins to grow.   Men are compartmentalizers.  Men tend to be able to take in the emotions of their day and then put them in levels of importance of addressing without the need to stack things up into a pressure cooker.  This doesn’t mean that men don’t get stressed or that they can’t flip their lid.  If anything, when a man gets stressed talking about his feelings is more likely to cause him to pop his top than to release any pressure on him.  A woman is able to depressurize her tea kettle by sharing her feelings and connecting with her husband.

Another thing that Dr. Eggerichs brings out is that “women need to talk to realize their feelings.”  I first misunderstood this.  I would tend to think I don’t  realize my own feelings but I think it is more that I just don’t have that many strong feelings.  Dr. Eggerichs explains that women can be overcome by a lot of different feelings and have a hard time grasping just what feelings they are having.  Talking can help her weed out her feelings and allow her to process exactly how she is feeling.  This process is vital to her to gain clarity and perspective on her feelings and then she can feel understood. 

So, I have to admit, this is an area that is hard to get a good balance on.  Maybe part of it is that my wife is constantly trying to look for ways to be the best wife she can be.  To give you an example, I have been making a conscious effort to limit how much news I listen to over the last few months.  Most of it is fabricated and unbalanced, so I felt it was better just to limit how much trash I was allowing to be broadcast to me.  My wife likes to keep up with the news pretty regularly and so when I toned out the news she was giving me updates on the latest news happenings.  Somewhere along the line, I mentioned that I was still getting a lot of the news though her telling me about it.  She responded by getting really quiet and then really limited anything that she talked to me about.  It immediately put a damper on our connection that even I could pick up on.  Beyond that, it created that tea kettle effect where she couldn’t get that release of pressure because she was trying to hold it in so much.  We had to figure out that we both need that sharing time for us to be able to find that rapport.  There are things that I probably don’t want to hear from her, but I do.  Likewise, I am sure that most of my talking is as boring as dirt, but she listens.  Most of the time, however, the time that we are able to share with each other is the highlight of my day and the only time that I really get to connect with anyone.