Author Kathy Batesel writes about topics she has experienced, worked with, or researched thoroughly.
How to Get Your Husband or Boyfriend to Understand Your Point of View
Men often point to women as being emotional or irrational during arguments. Men say they want logic, not emotion. On the other hand, a woman is often frustrated at what seems like her man's stubborn unwillingness to see her side of things. While she knows that having feelings doesn't prevent her from being logical, he can't seem to make sense of what she's saying.
To her, it looks like his pride won't let him admit when he's wrong. "He's so concerned with being right that he can't be my partner," she thinks. If that sounds like your relationship, take heart. These simple tips will transform the way you resolve the issues that affect your love life.
Down below, I'll go into more detail about how and why differences in relating to conflict arise between men and women.
Using a Non-Threatening Approach to Discuss Your Differences
There are several techniques that you can use to help minimize the triggers that paralyze your man from solving problems and understanding where you're coming from.
- Ask for his opinion on an article that discusses a situation that's similar to the one you're concerned about. You'll have an opportunity to express your views, too, but avoid personalizing the issue. In other words, don't use it to bait him into talking about a specific view, but rather take an opportunity that lets him learn about views you have that he may not have realized before. He's smart enough to connect the dots on his own later, and because he loves you, he will.
- Start a conversation with positive regard. Let him know several things you appreciated lately. Gently mention that you have one concern, and remind him of those positive things throughout the conversation. Let him see clearly that your concern is just one aspect of a relationship that is otherwise terrific, and ask him to solve the problem. Accept his solution whenever possible. (Don't expect perfection, because progress may be all you can get.)
- Avoid discussion altogether. Something happened. You didn't like it. You want to see a different response. Say what you want directly. "It hurt my feelings when you said I'm mean, and I'd like you to take me to dinner to show me that you didn't mean to hurt me." It's a concrete action that tells him, "You made a mistake, and I trust you to fix it. Here's how you prove it to me."
- If he gets irritable when you're talking about something that's not his fault, remind him that he's not the problem, and that you're not asking him to take action. You can say, "I need to vent. I'm not looking for solutions, but if you'll listen to me for five or ten minutes, it would sure help me feel better." Once you clearly define your expectations, he knows exactly what he needs to do.
With these tips, hopefully you will be able to get farther in your conversations with him and learn how to reconcile your differences.
Why Men and Women React Differently to Conflict
Studies have shown important sex differences between boy and girl babies. Infant girls make eye contact more often and for longer periods than boys do. Male babies track movement better.1
These natural tendencies influence the way their families and schoolmates interact with their children as they grow, which leads to girls and boys experiencing the world and expressing themselves differently.
Boys learn to master their domain through decisive actions. Girls learn to use talking and listening to influence their worlds.
By the time they're grown, boys feel out of their element when faced with situations in which they don't have a plan or a purpose. Girls, however, don't experience the same degree of anxiety. If she hears, "We need to talk," she may feel puzzled, curious, and worried, but she instinctively knows she has the skills to explore the problem and brainstorm solutions. She doesn't assume the messenger is delivering a blow to her ego.
Men, on the other hand, hear those same words quite differently. They're acutely aware that something is wrong, and they don't know what it is. Worse, even if they knew, they don't have a plan for solving it, and aren't certain they'll know how to get one. They lack awareness and purpose, and fear that their own actions may have caused it.
As if that weren't bad enough, they don't want to disappoint someone they love.
Taken together, these things lead men to feel a whole lot of uncertainty when relationship problems arise.
How Uncertainty Interferes With Relationships
Like it or not, men have been taught that they are defined by what they do rather than who they are. "I'm a lawyer." "I'm an artist." "I'm a machinist." A man will never say, "I'm Mr. Hersurname." His friends and family are almost irrelevant to how the world views him, and this is how his role has been reflected back to him since infancy.
Imagine for a moment how this poor guy must feel when the person he loves most in the world says, "We need to talk" in her unhappy voice. He doesn't know what is wrong, so he has no plan to solve it.
The first few times, he'll do his best to please her. Even if she's just venting about work, he doesn't want to disappoint her, so he offers solutions. He's not being bossy or controlling. He's just being a man and doing what he's been conditioned to believe is the right thing to do.
When it is directed at something he did, or if he's learned that she gets frustrated at his solutions, he'll do all he can to avoid showing weakness.
After all, he has learned that any sign of weakness is a fast path to failure. He learned it on the football team, when a sprained ankle sent him to the sidelines, or on the basketball team, when a broken wrist kept him out of the game. He'd rather pretend to be adequate for the job (even if he's not) than to find himself benched.
His conditioning is so opposite her approach that he may become "emotionally flooded" at the earliest signs of her displeasure. John Gottman, one of the premier relationship experts of our time, discusses flooding in his books and workshops. Men's blood pressure rises, their hearts beat faster, and they experience a fight or flight response that can interfere with collaborative problem-solving in relationships.
When emotion runs high, logic flies out the window. Men who are emotionally flooded find themselves in a position where their thinking is not orderly, rational, and goal-oriented. They literally cannot relate to what their partner is trying to say!
Their response to uncertainty aims to restore it. It may involve listening, deflecting the topic to something they're more familiar with, withdrawing, or dominating the conversation with their words, tones, or actions. In extreme cases, they may physically try to regain control of their environment and become physically abusive.
Is It Possible That You Are the Problem?
Uncertainty can lead to emotional flooding and prevent a man from speaking his mind or listening to his partner, but it's not the only reason for his stubborn stance.
If he has disagreed and you've ignored his views, it may be you who's being stubborn! Ask yourself if he may be right, or if the truth is somewhere in the middle of his views and your own. And then tell him when he's right!
Continuing to press a point just to get your way can damage the relationship. Sometimes, it's better to adopt the old saying, "You can be right, or you can be happy."
Wishing You Good Luck
A certain amount of conflict is guaranteed in any relationship. The key is learning how to deal with it that helps both parties come to a mutually satisfying conclusion.
I hope this information helps.
In Your Experience...
- Sethi, Anita, Ph.D. "The Real Difference Between Boys and Girls." Parenting. Accessed September 4, 2017.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: He's being stubborn. I refuse to talk to him too. Am I stubborn also? I need him to tell me that he needs me, but he told me if I don't want to see him, it's up to me, he won't mind. I felt hurt and did not to talk to him at all. Am I acting childish here?
Answer: If all of this is because you want him to tell you something he clearly isn't going to say, then yes, you're childish and manipulative. And if you're refusing to talk to him simply because you want your way, then yes, you're also stubborn.
Question: What does it mean when he can never start the start the conversation? I gave up, and now we don't text. He always waits for me to start a conversation.
Answer: It's hard to answer without more information, but if this is a new relationship I'd say he's probably not that into you, to be honest.
jellygator (author) from USA on December 22, 2014:
There are several things here that stand out. First, statements like, "You're an asshole" ARE abuse. Loving people act loving and don't try to drive someone they love away. You say you want to "act" like you're ok with stuff, but there isn't a need to pretend when a relationship is compatible. I hope you'll take a look at my article on the five pillars of compatibility and give some thought about this. I've found from sad experience that when there's not a LOT of compatibility, the relationship is likely to either fall apart or be unhappy. Best wishes.
Lopez on December 15, 2014:
Hi , me and him have been in a relationship for 4 years now. STill great sex great laughs and great company.
Though he has very high pride .. He would never stop me when I walk away crying. Or chase after me before I drive home emotionally at night .
I know he's a nice person. Very loyal and family oriented.. But he's not very good with helping us get over a problem . He never let's me talk. Tells me to stop expecting him to do things an what to say. Even tho it's very clear how I feel about a certain situation . And as a never endig cycle.. We both yell out of our lungs ..we get silent , I cry, then silent treatment until one is tired of ignoring.
But we both said things we don't really mean like .. THEN BREAK UP WITH ME. or YOU'RE STILL THE SAME ASSHOLE. Like things get really mean.. But never abusive.. Just hurtful words and feeling hopeless cus no one will back down on trying to show their point. I know he loves me and I know he knows when he wrong.. And he always apologizes in the end saying he is an asshole and to excuse his temper.. And I wanna be the woman to chill and be cool so he won't think I'm annoying and controlling but sometimes I can't help it especially when it bothers me.. I know sometimes it's better to not open my mouth and act like I'm okay.. But we both know it will only build me up to explode on him and he'll be confused and very angry.. Lol I guess my question is.. Can you give me advice to live a happy healthy relationship with a man like him? I wanna handle him correctly cus I know men will always be boys and can't help but change themselves.. So how can I Change to help me understand him more? Sorry long paragraph huh..
jellygator (author) from USA on October 10, 2014:
I can't tell you the number of times I felt the same way you do, Holly! You might not like what I am about to tell you, but it's what I learned the hard way and I hope you'll find it helpful:
1. The whole "I feel" statements thing NEVER worked for me. You know why? Because most people are smart enough to understand that even if I start off with "I feel unimportant when you don't answer me" it's STILL criticism!
2. You say you need to has it out, while he needs space.
Those are the two beliefs that will destroy your relationship. His pride is very much involved, and he is feeling defensive because he feels like he is failing.
What I would encourage you to do instead of "hashing it out" is this:
When you're unhappy about something, do NOT talk to him about it until you have figured out how you can get back to feeling good about things EVEN IF HE DOES NOT EVER HELP YOU, AGREE WITH YOU, OR KNOW HOW YOU FEEL!! Believe it or not, you can achieve this with every single issue that comes your way. I'll give you an example from my own experience that might help you see why this is true.
I hate it and feel threatened when people hit things or throw things during arguments. When my husband did this early in our relationship, I left the house and went for a walk so I could find my own solution even if he didn't help me or agree. I spent a lot of time thinking about if HE changed, it'd be ok, but that's not what I needed to do. I had to be ok even if he didn't change. I knew I would not be upset if I thought his behavior was ok, but I also knew I couldn't fake it. It was not ok for me to be a part of that. Ultimately, I realized that my answer was just that: I would solve that problem by leaving for 24 hours if it happened again. I came home and told him, "I know that you weren't trying to hurt anyone, but it freaks me out when stuff like that happens. I know I'd feel safer being away from it, so in the future, I'll be going to a hotel overnight when an argument gets that ugly." Even though he thinks I am overreacting, he knows that I am not judging him and I am within my rights to go to a hotel if I want to. He has not behaved that way since because he doesn't want me to leave.
By the time I found my own solution and talked to him, I was able to state what I had a problem with and how I would fix it. I didn't blame him or ask him to change anything. That's super important!!
Holly on October 10, 2014:
This is exactly what I'm going through with my boyfriend.
I've learned to state "I feel" instead of attacking, and be up front and honest with my feelings. However, when I try this approach I still get defensiveness, stubbornness and down right jerkiness from him.
I'm really at my wits end about it. He refuses to try to empathize with me and would rather defend his side to the death before he gave my side any concessions. When I get upset by the things he says he acts like I have no right to be. If I cry he'll flail his arms up and proclaim he doesn't know how to "deal with me". Our fights go on and on and he never takes responsibility for his actions or apologizes.
He's the type who needs space and I need to hash it out. Our compromise was he can have space for an hour but he can't leave me hanging all night and into the next day. He has agreed to this but has never followed through.
Actions speak louder than words, or so they say, and his actions lead me to believe he doesn't love me as much as I love him. Sometimes I feel like he needs a submissive woman and that will never be me.
PMARTIN on August 19, 2014:
By the way..sorry for the grammatical errors. My statement reads like some kind of cave dweller.
jellygator (author) from USA on August 19, 2014:
Thank you, PMARTIN. I had another article about how talking is overrated to highlight what you're pointing out, and ended up deleting it. I will add a box here to mention something on that. However, I will also add that when someone is nagging, it is often because they feel as if they did not get a definitive response.
PMARTIN on August 17, 2014:
Interesting how the article describes men like apes struggling to comprehend so anxiety sets in. have any of you women ever considered maybe he can be right sometimes??? maybe he is tired of you nagging pride trying to prove your right all the time. Try stating you peace and move on.
jellygator (author) from USA on December 29, 2013:
So sorry you're going through this Amna! Your husband sounds like he's very emotionally abusive. Because emotional abuse can turn into physical abuse easily, I encourage you to start planning your exit. Put a little bit of money away where he won't know about it every chance you get and find a safe place where you can go if you need to. Do this before trying anything to change the relationship. (Is your family near you?)
I would encourage you to read about the "180" from the book Divorce Busters and start using the ideas you find there. I also encourage you to get counseling or, better yet, get out. Your issue is a very complex one that I can't address in a simply reply on a blog post. I do have some other articles that might be helpful, though, so please browse them. But above all, plan for your safety.
Amna on December 29, 2013:
my husband has been bought up by his parents " who always say he is right in any matter and never wrong at all" It has been 4 years of marriage and I can't find any respect towards my feelings nor my needs ". He keeps counting on each and every thing , I am struggling with this relation . He controls me in every matter from financially to dressing sense . He is very much interested in the money I earn than of his own . he earns more than me , I agree that he does every thing for our living he does the shopping and everything else . When we got married he agreed that i can earn money to continue my studies but now he deny's it , he says that you are too old to study .He doesn't want me to save money for further studies . He doesn't find any of my decisions to be correct it might be in my favor or his favor . He treats me as if i am uneducated uncivilized person no respect for my parents , my brother or sister . But he wants all the respect for his parents and siblings . I am worried how is it going to effect my son . He has been verbally abusing me so I just have stopped talking to him. I want him to realize that even I have parents whom I love and they love me as much as his parents love him , and even I have feelings which can be hurt when he uses abusive language. Please help me .
jellygator (author) from USA on October 08, 2013:
I hope to hear from you again soon to let me know if you're seeing improvement and if the book helps!
Anne on October 08, 2013:
This means very much. Thank you. I will look at the book too :) We are good now again. And I will use your tips to avoid a next one (or damage control it when it does start)
jellygator (author) from USA on October 07, 2013:
Hi Anne, I'm sorry you're going through tough times with your guy. My recommendations would include:
1. When you're having doubts that make you go quiet, be grateful that he's noticing so quickly. That is an indication of how important you are to him. Instead of hoping for him to reassure you, acknowledge to yourself that he *is* paying attention to you, and thank him for it. He clearly feels like he doesn't measure up, either!
2. Remove blame from your relationship. Learn to say, "I'm struggling with something, but I know it's my own problem. I'll talk to you about it when I'm ready." Own the problem and don't let the solution be something that comes from him. Provide your own solution. So if you're worried that he is bored with you, for instance, find ways to spice things up... without asking him if he's bored with you.
3. Stop apologizing. Men see apologies differently than women do. They look at behaviors. Don't say "I'm sorry" but instead, change your behaviors that cause problems. If your anxiety results in arguments, find ways to handle your anxiety without dumping them in his lap.
I'm not saying your arguments are all your fault or all his. We're all human and we do the best we can with what we have. The first book I recommended, "Why Marriages Succeed or Fail," could offer you some great insight about what's going wrong and how to avoid it.
Anne on October 07, 2013:
We have been together for a year and are very in love with each other most of the time and agree we have a great love and nothing to complain about. Until......(and lately almost every day)...we fight.
And it goes like this:
I am insecure about his behavior..is he distancing himself? does he not like my cooking? is he bored with me? does he not like me anymore? And so I become quiet and he sees it immediately. Then in the passed he would comfort me and I would be smiling again. Now he immediately jumps up and starts yelling its every day the same and that i make an issue about everything. then he brings up fights from the past and then I start yelling that he talks about me as if I am a crazy person, that he is seeing it all way too negative, that we have so many great moments. He then only gets more angry and then one of us two walks away and then the other is angry for the other walking away. Its horrible. And then we go to sleep fighting. The next day somewhere I normally always apologize and admit I have problems and that I should not be such a perfectionist. And then everythings is perfect again.
Yesterday for the first time I really felt he was overreacting and it wasn't me being dramatic. And then he said that I made him that way. Its now the next day and I just really don't want to take the blame this time. But I am afraid h will never admit that it was him.
I feel I can only safe this by either ignoring (and waiting for the next time) or apologizing and talking negative about myself.
I wish he could apologize and fall on his knees and say "i should treat you better, you are a great and loving woman and I am sorry I said all these horrible things".
What do you recommend apart from above three tips
jellygator (author) from USA on September 29, 2013:
The two suggestions I would make to you are: 1) Stop allowing blame in your relationship. 2) every so often, schedule something you want him to do with you (but not things you know he's strongly opposed to) and simply TELL him that the two of you are going to do it and when.
Tdog on September 29, 2013:
Hey my husband is so stubborn. We talk things threw pretty good but nothing ever happens. Its like he knows i feel better after i talk to him but doesn't feel a need to change. I don't want him to change completely just try new things for me, i try new things for him because i love him but he wont give me the same courtesy. All we ever do is watch TV and i just want to spend time doing stuff together like we use to but he always says no. He also says i always say everything is his fault and i really don't want him to feel that way but he refuses to tell me what i do wrong so how can i change with out feedback and it just goes in a big circle. I know its confusing and really i shouldn't complain but I am scarred to just let things be and do my own thing and be happy with feeling lonely because i feel like doing that is resigning our relationship to failure because we will just grow apart. What do i do?
jellygator (author) from USA on September 23, 2013:
It sounds like you might be better off getting away - for good! While a brief break might help him wake up and treat you better, it's likely to be a short fix. His emotional make-up won't change permanently, and you seem to be emotionally incompatible. My hub on compatibility may help you figure out if you have too many differences to make things work or if you've got a good chance of making it work. You can read it at https://pairedlife.com/dating/The-Five-Pillars-of-... if you're interested. Thank you for visiting, Elsa!
Elsa Mean on September 22, 2013:
My boyfriend is a cold hearted and tough. In our 3 1/2 years relationship, Im the one who always approach him first, who fixes the problem and all he does is just to wait, because he knows that I'm the first who surrendered. what will I do to him? I am planning to get away.. at least 1 week? to make him realize how worth I am? Is it good decision or not?
jellygator (author) from USA on December 11, 2012:
sandz, I hope you can learn to accept who he is. Even if he tries to be more showy and communicate more, if it's not natural for him, it probably won't last. Can you love him just the way he is?
sandz on December 11, 2012:
My boyfriend is not showy.what will i do to make him a showy person. He is not that kind of person that will say what he wanna say. He can't be so sweet personaly . I want him to be more showy verbally..
THANK U on November 20, 2012:
IT IS OVIOUS PINKY ,THAT MAN DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU ,SO DON'T SAY ANYTHING IF HE LOVES YOU HE WILL SHOW YOU
jellygator (author) from USA on July 16, 2012:
Thank you, TRE!
Bev G from Wales, UK on July 16, 2012:
Good advice, Jellygator. It's nice to see your articles are helping people.
jellygator (author) from USA on July 15, 2012:
I'm sorry to hear that you're in a confusing situation. I think you might find my hub on mixed messages helpful. As you said, a man will step up to the plate for a woman he plans to spend his "forever" with, and I think that what your man is saying with his words is contradicted by his actions. Take a look at https://pairedlife.com/problems/Decode-Mixed-Signa... and see what you think. Best wishes.
Pinky on July 15, 2012:
Hi I've been seeming this guy over a year now, and all of sudden he started distancing himself from me, so I won't text or call him but not often like I used too I started giving him his space, usually he doesn't have time to spend time with me so I address this to him after he asked my why haven't I been calling or texting him anymore he felt I was seeing someone else, I explain to him, that I was giving him some space and everytome I felt when I text or call him I felt like I was bothering him, well we talk it out and he said he understands but then I felt he doesn't have time for me, and I told him I might want to start dating other people, he got quite and was like he needs to
Process this I haven't heard from him in a week only we would text to say Good Morning I want to reach out but I feel if a woman just told you, you don't have time for me in your life and she want to start seeing other people I would think that would make him step up, I am so confuse, we are not "officially" in a relationship but we do love each other, I just feel like I have my life on hold for him to figure out what he wants, any advice will help. Thanks
jellygator (author) from USA on June 02, 2012:
I can understand how tough it can be to get into those never-ending arguments. One thing I recommend is to stop trying to talk when he withdraws. The two of you are into some pretty intense power struggles instead of looking for solutions to a problem. I have a hub on how to fight fair when emotions are high that you may find helpful. Best wishes.
michelle on June 02, 2012:
Hello, I need some advice. I live with my boyfriend and everything was fine in the beginning but now we have broken up. He says he needs a few weeks to think about hings I've been giving him his space as much as I can, we share a car and an aprtment. So it's a pretty awkward situation. Whenever we get into an argument we just keep going around in circles and never come to a solution. Most of the time he is the one who walks away from the conversation, and I'm left feeling empty handed and so I will keep trying to talk to him about it which makes him even more angry sometimes to the point which he leaves for the night. We argue over little things, such as I left the shower curtain open and water got on the floor, he got angry with me, and I got angry over the way he spoke to me about the problem so then he got mad at me for getting mad at him. Sorry, it gets pretty confusing. He gets angry when I ask him questions. He says I ask questions that I should already know the answer to. He broke up with me because our relationship is too comfortable. I am a very passive person and I aslo have social anxiety. When I am around his co-workers I don't talk to them, I'm not being rude, I just don't know what to say. So this makes him mad, also that I don't like to try new things such as food. Whenever we have a day off together we can't come to an agreement on what to do for the day. He says let's go fishing I say no, he asks what I want to do I say I don't know. But when I do offer fun things that we would both enjoy he says no to all of them, I come up with more ideas and his only idea is fishing. Since I do have social axeity it hinders me as well as him. He says in a relationship the partners should be able to compete with each other. He says he feels as though he's in the front of the race and I'm at the back and he feels as though he's dragging me along. This isn't the first time we have broken up over something like this. Please help I don't know what to do, I always read these coments and articles on relationships but I never post anything so this is new to me. I would be very thankful for some advice.
jellygator (author) from USA on April 02, 2012:
So sorry to hear you're going through this, Dannie. Yes, it's definitely discouraging to feel like the person who's supposed to be your best friend is sometimes your biggest enemy and worst critic.
Remember that an argument can't happen without two people and that you can't change him, and then read this again - the part about how men handle uncertainty AND the tips in bold. When he's busy proving himself "right" you can remind yourself that he's showing just how afraid he is to fail. I often told myself "I can be right, or I can be happy" to let go of arguing.
Best wishes. I hope you find a path to happiness.
DANNIE on April 01, 2012:
I AM SO DISCOURAGE BECAUSE MY HUSBAND IS ALWAYS RIGHT AND EVERY LITTLE FIGHT , DISAGREEMENT OR ARGUMENT IS TREATED BY HIS AS A COURT CASE WHEREBY HE NEEDS TO PUT ALL THE EVIDENCE OUT AGAINST ME...He has even started calling people to prove him right - when i BEG HIM NOT TO DO THIS BECAUSE IT IS SO EMBARRASSING - HE DOESN'T CARE BECAUSE HE ONLY WANTS TO BE RIGHT - HE IS DOMINANT, STUBBORN AND VERY HARSH, ALWAYS TURNING EVERYTHING TO BE MY FAULT = what can i DO = I AM GOING CRAZY = I CAN'T DO THIS MUCH LONGER