Larry James' BLOG

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Need to Talk. . .

Filed under: Relationships — Larry James @ 6:00 am
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Those four words – generally spoken by a female voice – make most men quiver with fear! It’s a powerful statement and it’s intention is to get your attention. And. . . it does!

It usually means there’s something serious in the offering. It sometimes means prepare yourself for an intense experience, but not always. That may depend upon the tone by which is was expressed. It’s okay to brace yourself, but for the sake of your relationship, just listen.

It doesn’t always mean, “I have a complaint.” Sometimes it is a “Heads up – you’re not hearing what I’m trying to tell you.” She may be saying, “there is something I want you to understand. And I don’t think you’re getting it, so I need you to listen, so you know how I feel”. That’s all. That’s enough.

Call it a “design flaw” if you must, but men are – generally speaking – not very good at paying attention to what’s really going on in the relationship. That’s why, “We need to talk” and the words that follow often come as a surprise.

On the other side, women have a tendency to put up with their partner’s crap for longer periods of time before they have finally had enough. . . then there’s this big explosion! By the time they begin to talk, they may have already made a decision and anything you say could be for naught.

That’s why it is very important for couples to maintain an open line of communication all the time, not just when you’ve had enough. Here’s a great promise to make to each other: I promise to always talk to you about anything and everything all the time. It may be one of the hardest promises you will ever have to keep. . . and it’s worth it! Without an agreement in place, neither partner has a promise to communicate. Learn to share the good, bad and the not so good.

It’s time to listen, in fact, get ready to listen and listen some more. Then, when she pauses, repeat what you understand her to be saying. Never try to fix her with your advice, just listen and let her know that you understand.

Guys, while your first instinct may be to run for it, that’s the worst thing you can do, says Ron Louis, co-author of How to Succeed With Women. “Most guys in these situations try to crack jokes or avoid the conversation,” Louis notes. “But it never works.” My advice: Keep your cool – and make the chat as painless as possible.

Denial may seem to be the easiest response, or immediately begin to defend your position but that doesn’t work. Don’t resist. Let your partner say what they need to say.

It’s best to be a “committed” listener. That is someone who is committed to listening to your partner as she or he pours out their heart. Simple, isn’t it? Difficult? Yep!

Empathic listening is a choice. Audioapathy is a word I coined to describe the condition often experienced when partners become apathetic about listening when their partner talks with them. It is a dreaded dis-ease that can poison your relationship. Although it appears that men are more affected than women, some women also get it.

Hearing is involuntary. You can be sound asleep and still hear something or someone, but listening is voluntary. It is an intellectual and emotional choice. It implies effective communication between the sender and the receiver, which hearing does not.

It is a wise partner who, when their partner is talking, puts down the evening newspaper or turns the TV or the computer off, makes eye contact and truly listens to what their partner is saying. Very wise. Listen like you mean it. It may be difficult to listen to what they have to say, however, if the truth hurts – be grateful. When your partner talks, listen for the truth about what they are saying instead of going on the defensive. That only keeps you stuck.

Men and women need to talk more about what really matters. Not surface conversation, but getting down to the good stuff and allowing their feelings about each other and the relationship to be fully expressed. Learn to articulate your concerns with love.

It’s never a good idea to start a serious conversation when you are cranky, angry or stressed-out. It’s important to weigh your words before you speak them. When you speak without thinking is when you can get in trouble. It is a wise love partner who is aware of the potential damage loose words can cause. Words spoken in anger inflict wounds that sometimes take a long time to heal. Think first, then speak.

When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend. – U.S. Marine Corps

Women should save these words – “We need to talk” – for the real serious stuff, not the “I wish you would put the toilet seat down,” or until a dropped sock becomes, ‘You do not appreciate me,” ‘Who cares how I feel?’ or, “Do you give a damn about me at all?”

And another thing, girls. . . always say what you mean! Don’t beat around the bush. Guys are not great at reading your minds. You may have to translate for him, but lay it out there and remember to say it with love.

Tackle Talk – In other words. . . Communicate. It is often most difficult to restart this process. AND it is the most important way to contribute to your relationship. If you have both been shut down. . . recommit to opening up to each other. Choosing wisely what you say and how you say it gives you great power.

Not talking can cause a serious disconnect from the one you say you love.

Guys: Your mission – if you chose to accept it – is to be a good listener and do whatever you can to work with her to find a mutually beneficial solution so you don’t have to every hear: “We need to talk” again.

Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and a nondenominational minister. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere.

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – and

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  1. […] We Need to Talk. . . « Larry James' BLOG […]

    Pingback by How to Avoid a Naughty Chat | Christian Chat — Thursday, March 4, 2010 @ 6:55 am | Reply

  2. Um, girls? Really. It’s 2010 and you still think it’s okay to call adult women girls? How can any woman enter into a serious conversation, let alone an intimate relationship with anyone who refuses to see her as an adult, equal human being? Perhaps before trying to tell men to work on listening skills, you might want to examine your own loving embrace and reinforcement of enculturated sexism.

    When you have, then this woman; adult, mature, educated, with a great sense of humor (lest anyone stop reading and assume “humorless, feminist”) will be more likely to take your advice seriously.

    Welcome to the 21st century. Women are no longer “girls,” after they become adults.

    Comment by Luccia — Saturday, January 16, 2010 @ 3:30 pm | Reply

    • Luccia – Picky, picky, picky. I hope you didn’t miss the point by getting all tangled up in your effort to be politically correct. Last time I checked women were still girls. And both girls and women are females. I know some girls that are more mature than some of the women I’ve know. No offense intended. Read it again and substitute whatever word you care to for the word girls and hopefully you will get the point I was trying to make. I appreciate the point you were trying to make. 😉

      Larry James

      Comment by Larry James — Monday, January 18, 2010 @ 11:53 pm | Reply

  3. Larry, thanks so much for sharing this and all your posts . . . it isn’t always easy to negotiate a relationship today, as people are busy and relationships are not modeled upon those of prior generations, where people most naturally followed a particular pathway towards marriage. It’s nice also to use simple techniques to encourage communicating to the fullest. Cheryl

    Comment by Cheryl — Tuesday, January 5, 2010 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  4. communication is so important, we need to talk. No communication is the worst situation.

    Comment by lovesoul — Saturday, January 2, 2010 @ 8:07 am | Reply

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