There are five words that when spoken by a wife are the five most feared words every husband dreads hearing. I’ve said them to an audience and asked men what they think when they hear these words, and they answer things like “What did I do wrong now?” or “Watch out, trouble coming!” or “I just don’t need this right now!” Without exception, men hear these words as a signal that in some way they have “done something wrong again!”
What are the five words that can strike such fear into a man’s heart? Here they are: “Honey, we need to talk,” Every man I’ve talked with believes what’s going to be talked doubt is not going to be about something good. We men have a number of what we think are creative ways to sabotage the attempted conversation.
I worked with one husband, who, when his wife said this, would start to flip through the channels on the TV while insisting that he was listening. He did this even though he knew it only added to his wife’s frustration. But his hope was that she would give up and leave the room. He didn’t care that she was now angry–he was certain that that would have been the inevitable end to the conversation anyway.
I worked hard to get him to change his response, and when he did, he came in to the office that week smiling. “What happened,” I asked. “Well,” he responded, “the other day she came into the family room and said we needed to talk, and I put down the magazine, turned off the TV, and turned to her and said, “Ok, what about?”
He paused to the point that I had to ask what happened. And with a big smile he said, “she got so flustered that she didn’t know what to say, so she just turned and left the room.” And all three of us had a great laugh.
Why do wives do this? Do they like playing police detective trying to find our latest failure? Believe it or not, that’s not their purpose in asking those five dreaded words. Wives seem to all have a basic fear in their lives. They live in constant dread, it seems like to us husbands, of being disconnected from us.
That’s not a man’s basic fear–he fears failure. But for a wife, and really any woman,they live in fear of being alone and disconnected from those they love. And they may get tons of connection from the kids, or from their friends, but it’s that connection with the husband that is most important.
So the next time, husbands, when your wife says those five dreaded words, slow down and ignore that feeling that you’ve done something wrong again. Start to interpret those words to mean, “Honey, I’m not feeling very connected with you, can we talk together?” Just might make for a better day, and a better marriage relationship, for you both.
Question: What happened the last time these five words were used in your marriage?