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Ladies, do you find yourself increasingly frustrated by the men in your life? While relationships don’t come with a handbook or how-to guide, life would certainly be a lot less stressful if they did. However, even though old lines like men are from Mars may help to sell books, they do little to actually help you better understand what your man is thinking.

Fortunately you’re not alone in trying to understand how the opposite sex operates. Psychologists who study gender roles have also been working on way to improve communication between men and women, and have learned quite a bit about the thought patterns and behaviors of both sexes. With that in mind, here are six tips that can help improve communication in your relationships.

Lets Talk about Feelings

One of the biggest stereotypes about men is that they never want to share how they’re feeling. Studies have shown that men fear raising complaints about a relationship will help to undermine the stability of the relationship, while women view this type of communication as a sign their mate is emotionally invested. While this tug and pull can lead to a lot of frustrating conversations, psychologists say you can get a man to open more easily by asking him to talk about his feeling indirectly.

Instead of asking him to describe his feelings, ask him to talk about how he felt the first time the two of you met. To get a better understanding of how he feels about romance, ask him how he’d envision the perfect romantic weekend. Without feeling the need to directly attribute his answers to his own emotions, you will find your mate a lot more willing to open up about subjects that once seemed taboo.

Actions Over Words

While it would be nice to frequently hear how much your significant other loves you, men have an easier time showing how they feel rather than verbalizing their emotions. Your man may say “I love you” by fixing a broken dresser or end table, cleaning up the yard, or something as simple as doing the dishes or taking out the trash. Any action he perceives as making your life a little easier, in his mind, may be the equivalent of a 100 Hallmark cards.

Serious About Commitment

Another popular misperception about men is that they fear commitment. However, research indicates that men do indeed take relationships very seriously. While men may take longer to finally commit, once they invest in a relationship most men make every effort to ensure the relationship lasts. In a recent survey of married men, nearly 90 percent said if they could go back they would happily marry their wife again.

Quality Listener

It’s important to remember when trying to gauge whether your man actually listens to what you say that not everyone engages in a conversation the same way. While you might frequently chime in with the occasional “uh-huh,” “yes,” or “I see” to let the other person know you’re listening, your man might prefer to just sit back, listen, and think about what you’re saying. When talking, make sure you give your man an opportunity to respond or make comments periodically. By dominating the conversation, you may think he’s not listening because he doesn’t feel like he can get a word in.

Play Together, Stay Together

Research shows couples that enjoy similar hobbies, leisure activities, and sporting events last longer than relationships with little shared common activities. One of the reasons for this is that men strengthen a bond with their partner more through shared activities than through shared feelings.

Alone Time

Some women may feel that if their significant other prefers to spend some time alone, it’s a direct indictment on how they feel about them. Even though shared activities can help strengthen a relationship, men also need to spend time alone. Whether working out at the gym, playing golf with their buddies, or even gardening alone in the yard, men need to have their own hobbies to maintain an independent identity within a relationship. Most women also share this need, and when both partners can have their own individual space, they have more to give to one another.

Timothy Lemke blogs about relationship advice for Dr. Howard Jarvis, a dentist in SW Portland, OR


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