Dr. Kevin Leman, psychologist and author of Have a New Husband by Friday, has been our guest for several days on the Focus on the Family broadcast this week. I really appreciate Dr. Leman. Although, boy, did he do a number on me during yesterday’s program! After spending two broadcasts giving marital advice to wives, he ambushed me right there in the studio.
Let me set the stage for what happened.
Dr. Leman began by explaining that the average marriage lasts just seven years. According to his experience mentoring couples, one of the primary reasons marriages get in trouble is a failure to understand and appreciate the fact that men are men and women are women. The sexes simply have different ways of communicating, relating, and viewing the world. While that seems so intuitive on the surface, practically speaking, it’s not.
To illustrate the different ways men and women approach communication, Dr. Leman announced he had pre-recorded a conversation with my wife Jean. I felt busted! I immediately looked over at our co-host, John Fuller. Was he in on the conspiracy? Turns out John had no idea where things were headed, either. In fact, Dr. Leman had spoken with John’s wife, too. We both started to sweat right there in the studio!
Thankfully, I married up when I married Jean. I’d say she was gracious in the way she described how we used to misfire in the area of communication. With my heart pounding just a little faster, Jean’s voice filled the speakers. She recalled a time about seven years into our marriage when she had something important she wanted to tell me. The moment she picked to talk and “connect” with me just so happened to be in the middle of a football game. I think you might know where this is going. Jean said:
“Jim liked to watch football Sunday afternoons and Monday nights. From my perspective, what a great time to connect. He’s just sitting there and it’s just football, right? So I would start having conversations with him. I remember actually feeling hurt that Jim was ignoring me.”
In fairness, that’s an understatement. Jean wasn’t just a little bit hurt. This was a big deal for her. All she wanted to do was to interact with her husband and enjoy my company. I, however, was too focused on the game. Why? As a guy, it wasn’t “just football.” Watching a game was how I unwound after a crazy day of work. That’s a big difference in how many men and woman view sports and the need for conversation.
To her credit, Jean utilized a new approach to spanning our communication gap. She told Dr. Leman:
“I would go to Jim and say, ‘Is this a good time to ask you something?’ and then allow Jim to be able to say, ‘Well, they’re just about ready to score. Can it wait a minute?’ I’ve also learned that a football minute isn’t a real minute—but that’s okay. I’ve also learned not to discuss heavy, deep issues during football games.”
Now, after years of practice, when Jean asks me that question—“Is this a good time to ask you something?”—a light goes on in my head indicating that either I need to stop what I’m doing, turn and face her, and give her my full attention, or at least be honest enough to say, “Honey, now isn’t the best time, but I look forward to talking after dinner.” In turn, Jean has learned to trust me that I’m not disinterested in her world just because I may not be able to converse at the moment.
Thanks, Dr. Leman, for a wonderful series of broadcasts.
If you missed any of the conversation, click