How to have a great conversation

Special to The Sun City PacketMarch 4, 2013 

As you might remember, I've been working with my husband, Bob, to bring our conversations to a more fulfilling and sophisticated level. My aim is to move beyond the standby masculine verbalizations and responses of "good" and "nice," and grunts and shrugs.

I'm happy to report that I've met with some success. Just the other day, I asked Bob if he knew what the forecast was, and a lengthy revelation of weather patterns for the next several days followed. When asked what he wanted for his birthday, he discoursed for 15 minutes about the pros and cons of various brands of golf balls and which, in his opinion, were the best. Since this was such an unleashed torrent of words, our family clung to every word like Spider Man to a wall, and Bob was buried under a hail-storm of golf balls on his birthday.

As is evident herewith, Bob has made strides. But there are three phrases which can stop his forward movement in the blink of an eye. Listed below, in priority order of tension produced, are the utterances.

  • Does this make me look fat?

  • Do you really love me?

  • We need to talk

  • When one of these sentences falls upon his ears, Bob's expression freezes, his eyes take on a deer-in-the-headlights startle as if danger is hurling toward him, and a small tic develops in his cheek. Meanwhile his brain fast forwards to panic. But truly, as I have tried to reassure him, there is no need for such extreme reactions. I admit that the two questions can be tricky, but with a little preparation aforethought can be easily navigated.

    When asked, "Does this make me look fat?" men must realize that all that is required from them is reassurance. They must make a woman feel that she is as lovely as the day they first met. It is not good form to ask, "Do you mean the bottom half or the top half?" Nor is it good for ones relationship to respond, "Darling, you've grown into your age." All that is needed is a mere, "Honey, you look sensational" or "Sweetheart, you look like the bride I married" combined with a loving hug and a tender kiss.

    "Do you really love me?" requires more headwork. Men must remember that their response to this question long ago doesn't count now. A "yes" to this question uttered at engagement, at your wedding reception, or even on your honeymoon doesn't count. Once is not enough. Even if the question were asked only yesterday, the response must be heart-felt, genuine, and answered with passion from an innermost fire. The correct response is not, "Did you forget?" or "You just asked me that" combined with a sigh.

    Obviously, communication is a two-way street. When a situation arises between a recently reassured woman that she is not fat and is deeply cared for by the man she loves, the way is paved for a productive problem-solving discussion should the occasion arise. When the statement, "Sweetheart, we need to talk" is made there is no need for men to feel the sudden urge to wash the car, clean golf clubs or feign a sudden ache or pain. The inevitable can't be put off.

    In a "we need to talk" situation, the gentlemanly thing to do is to let the woman go first. Men should listen intently, maintain eye contact, and nod in agreement with virtually everything his partner says. Note taking is suggested as this part of the discussion tends to be lengthy, with much subtle detail. If discrepancies or differences occur during this recitation of fact, asterisks can denote these, but it is not proper to voice objections at this time. Above all, the subject is not to be dismissed and no solutions are to be offered.

    When the woman's factual presentation is concluded, men should then refer to their notes and mention the asterisked item(s) if any exist. A simple statement of the difference(s) is sufficient, there being no need for prolonged reiteration of contested points.

    After the male viewpoint has been aired, the woman regains the floor and with patience, oh such saintly patience, points out the inconsistencies in his rebuttal. Holding the status of prime communicator, the woman gently debunks objections, skillfully maneuvers the conversation, and thereby resolves the controversy.

    So you see, men, communication with a significant other is not difficult at all. A few easy, self-evident guidelines simplify everything. All you have to do is relax and be spontaneous.

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