When your wife asks, "How was your day?" it's easy to give a one-word answer like "fine" or "OK." Men are very different in how they see their days as opposed to women. "The brains of men and women, while similar in many ways, are more different than most scientists ever realized," says Larry Cahill, PhD. Men think in terms of thingsand results. Women think more in terms of emotionsand desired outcomes.
I understand coming home from a day at work feeling tired and irritable. I understand you just want to get to your comfy chair (although you don't call it that). But understand you're at a crucial moment. "How was your day?" is a gateway question — a gateway to conversation. Your wife is saying she'd like to talk with you. When you answer with a monosyllabic word, you effectively shut the gate (and depending on how you answer, you might even be slamming it shut).
Men can be friends with others without talking about their feelings and relationships, often using sentences of only four or five words. Dr. John Lund, therapist and author, suggests that men tend to "become impatient with inefficiency." They may even finish others' sentences. They want answers to be short and sweet.
Conversely, Jim Butcher suggests in his novel, "Cold Days," that women can have a conversation using five levels of awareness at the same time. "They follow the conversation that they're actually having, the conversation that is specifically being avoided, the tone being applied to the overt conversation, the buried conversation that is being covered only in subtext, and finally the other person's body language."
See how your answer of "fine" or "OK" could be insulting? Your wife is asking how your day is because she cares about you and wants to help you deal with your stress. The way women deal with stress is to talk about it — something men don't often understand. Men are more interested not thinking or talking about stress. But if you want good communication in your marriage, you need to get over this.
When your wife asks you about your day, you need to tell her how it went using specific examples. Then, you need to tell her how you felt about those examples. This takes patience and practice. If this seems overwhelming to you, remember, texting counts! If you don't want to spew forth at the end of the day, send your wife texts throughout the day describing your experiences. This shows her you are thinking of her and that you want to share things with her, and you'll earn big points in doing so.
The last step is the most important. After you've answered your wife's question appropriately, ask her about her day. Then, listen. Comment in appropriate places, but understand that a woman talking about her problems doesn't necessarily need someone else to fix them for her. She just needs someone to listen and understand.
Use these tips, and see how much better the communication is between you and your spouse.
Kent Larson is from Phoenix, Arizona. He's been happily married for 30 years. They have two sets of twins and he's been teaching for 26 years. His interests are his family, writing, reading, music, and movies. Find him at kentalarson.wordpress.com.