If you’re not seeing eye-to-eye with your girlfriend, it’s normal: According to a new study, only 18 percent of men and women share personality traits with each other. This makes difficult conversations (think sex and money)—well—even more difficult as men and women often misinterpret each other. But it’s what you’re not saying that could be destroying your relationships, says Reid Mihalko, sex and relationships expert and founder of ReidAboutSex.com.
Make your best case by asking yourself these three questions, Mihalko says: What are you afraid to say? What are you afraid might happen if you say it? What do you want to happen when you say it?
Then, calmly say: There’s something I want to talk to you about, but I’m worried to bring it up because _____, but I hope _____. Why it’ll work: Straightforward communication between couples is more likely to lead to a long-term result when compared to being indirect or unclear, according to research from New Zealand.
Plan a Time to Talk
Walking away from an argument can be a warning sign of divorce, according to a University of Michigan study. What to do instead: Ask her when she’s free to talk about something that’s been on your mind. Note: Don’t talk about sex issues during sex, or money while you’re filing your taxes, Mihalko urges. The stakes will be lower when you’re both relaxed, doing other things. No one will feel attacked in the heat of the moment.
Use the Words “I Feel”
Rather than saying, you can’t spend that much on groceries, say, I feel that we won’t be able to relax if we spend this much because our budget is tight. Why it’ll work: “Words are intimacy to women,” says Helen Fisher, relationship expert and professor at Rutgers University. Since women are more emotionally expressive, using the words “I feel” will show your concerns in a way she can relate to.
Avoid Suggesting Solutions
If you fire off fixes, she may feel like you’re adding up a math problem, says Fisher. Instead, say: I’ve come up with some ideas for how we could do this differently, do you have any? Seeing the problem and solutions from two perspectives is a more collaborative environment.
Face Her, and Touch Her
Men and women see intimacy in different ways—women through being face-to-face, men through doing things side by side, Fisher says. “Men may think sitting at a movie or riding bikes next to each other is intimate, but women need that anchoring gaze,” she adds. What to do: Face each other, and touch her while you talk. Utah researchers found that affectionate contact lowers stress markers in both men and women.
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