Skip to content

    Men's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Men: Listen More to Improve Your Relationship

    By
    WebMD Magazine - Feature

    Men want their relationships to succeed just as much as women do. But for some men, an inability to empathize with and open up to their partner hurts their efforts.

    "There's a darker aspect of masculinity, a tendency to withdraw, to be impatient and short-fused," says Los Angeles-based psychologist Herb Goldberg, PhD. "A lot of it is unconscious, not done intentionally, and it is deeply rooted and difficult to change."

    Recommended Related to Men

    Lookin’ Good: A Man's Guide

    Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the vainest one of all? If you think women win the prize for vanity, think again. In a recent market research poll of Americans and Europeans, 73% of the men described spending time in front of the mirror as “important” or “very important.” Only 72% of women set the same value on mirror time. Marketers have taken note. Male grooming and beauty products now represent a $30 billion industry. Cosmetic companies that once marketed exclusively to women now have extensive...

    Read the Lookin’ Good: A Man's Guide article > >

    Difficult but not impossible, Goldberg adds. To develop meaningful and lasting relationships, you need to work at opening lines of communication with your spouse or partner, and then keep them open. Here's how to start.

    Join a men's group. Build your skills by talking to other guys, Goldberg recommends. "You won't talk about business, the stock market, or ball games. Instead you'll focus on your relationships, your emotions, what's going in your life." To find a group, seek out a psychologist or therapist who specializes in men's issues, or check with local churches.

    Decide to listen. "What allows a man to maintain a relationship with a woman is the ability to make her feel important, to make her feel heard," Goldberg says. That doesn't mean you simply nod along as she talks. You pay attention, you ask questions, and you follow up with genuine concern.

    Share decisions. Relationships often start with the man in the driver's seat, literally and figuratively. In time, he may feel guilty for taking charge, and she may feel controlled and angry, Goldberg says.

    "Raise the issue that you want to plan together, and work at doing that right from the beginning. When you take a leadership role like one you may have at work, you're setting the stage for real damage in the relationship."

    Q&A

    Q: "I'm the father of two young boys. What can I do now to start to build the best possible relationships with them?"  -- Mark Peterson, 43, stay-at-home dad, Florence, MA.

    A: "Be there and listen empathetically. Listen to what they say and to what they want to do. Of course, it's important to steer them in the right direction and offer suggestions, but be sure you're talking with them, not at them. Look at them, pay attention, and respond to them as if what they're saying is the most important thing. Let them know that by the questions you ask and the positive support you give. And do check your electronic equipment at the door." --William Pollack, PhD, assistant clinical professor of psychology, Harvard Medical School, and author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons From the Myths of Boyhood.

    Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of "WebMD Magazine." 

    Reviewed on March 01, 2014

    Today on WebMD

    man coughing
    Men shouldn’t ignore.
    man swinging in hammock
    And how to get out it.
     
    shaving tools
    On your shaving skills.
    muscular man flexing
    Four facts that matter.
     
    Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
    Slideshow
    Thoughtful man sitting on bed
    Quiz
     
    Man taking blood pressure
    Slideshow
    doctor holding syringe
    Slideshow
     
    Condom Quiz
    Quiz
    thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
    Slideshow
     
    man running
    Quiz
    older couple in bed
    Video