I passed through an open court food area where there were food outlets around the walls and a large area with many tables in the middle. I saw a dad, a mom and a college age son sitting at one table. The dad was talking and they were listening. I went away and returned an hour later. He was still talking and they were still listening.
I marveled at what I was seeing. In 95% of such occasions, the wife is doing all the talking, perhaps with kids joining in, and dad sits silently.
I was a bit jealous to see how his wife sat and listened to him with rapt attention. It reminded me of 30 years ago, when my wife and I were courting. She used to listen to me talk. Little did I realize at the time how short lived those halcyon days would be. Now she is under a compulsion to judge everything I do as wrong. She can't help herself. My job is to not resent her, point things out if I need to, be there for her, and make sure that I am a right person. If I am a right person--honorable, principled, wise, patient, and not weak and not angry--there will nothing to judge.She may still judge me, but at least I will not be a temptation through wrongness or weakness.
Getting back to the husband, wife and son that I saw--of course, there is always the possibility that the husband I was observing is somewhat of a tyrant, so they might be humoring him (but wishing he would stop talking). That would not be good.
But if he is respectable and has important things to say--and they love and respect him and willingly listen--that is beautiful, but rare.
The point I am making is that most wives are very verbal, and the husband not so much so. She does the talking, and he nods in agreement. But be careful, because after a couple decades of this--she becomes everything and he becomes nothing. And she is not happy with that either.
The typical situation, which is all too common, is where the man has shut down and says little. He lets her go on and on, and he may not even interrupt with any comment. One man said " My wife talks at 90 miles an hour with gusts up to 120."
Of course, the wife will often complain "my husband does not talk to me."
Do you see the irony?
Either extreme is probably not so good--like where he never talks, or where he always talks too much. Maybe something in the middle--like 50/50 would be better.
However, I have to say that if he were really the George Washington of the family--wise, principled, thoughtful, and full of agape love--it is his job to be the teacher, the leader, the wise dispenser of wisdom and understanding.
A man ought to be the center of the family. In most homes, the wife is the center. If he were wise and full of understanding, then his family would come to him and would want to hear what he has to say.
If they have to try to coax him to talk, or about all he has to talk about is sports or food, or if she is his boss wife and he is expected to listen and obey--the roles have been reversed.
If this is the case, then there will undoubtedly be plenty of resentment to go around. The kids will resent dad too. They can tell when dad is a wimp or dumps everything on mom, including holding up a conversation. They will resent him for his weakness.
When a man is weak or wimpy, or if he makes being liked more important than principle, he will soon become a doormat. If he is like a big kid and needs someone to mother him, then she will dominate him.
If he walks around on egg shells, afraid to offend, because he does not want to lose his perks and his sex fix, she will have contempt for him. Then she will feel guilty for the resentment and will try to make up for it (blaming herself) and she will be too nice, tempting him to take advantage of her guilt.
Of course, his weakness tempts her to take change. There is a vacuum created by his abdication, and any woman worth her salt will rise to the occasion. She will resent him however, because deep down she may want him to be the noble knight, responsible, principled, and wise, so that she does not have to be saddled with the responsibility for everything.
On the one hand, she may like the power, but on the other hand, she resents having to be the responsible one.
Soon she is in charge of everything--finances, schooling, taking the kids to church, after school sports, even repairs around the house. He thinks he is in hog heaven--she takes care of everything, and he can be the irresponsible big kid--concerned with gambling, sports, and foolishness while she has all the responsibility. Meanwhile the family is suffering.
If he is a good provider, he goes to work and brings home the paycheck. But sadly, many such decent men think that just bringing home a paycheck is all that is required. He does not realize that he has to be there for his family--not as a workhorse and not as a big kid--but as the Moses of his family.
It is sad to see many homes where dad is a decent guy and a good provider--but he is weak. The kids resent him, and both son and daughter are likely to have issues because of the resentment toward their weak father. Many such men go to their grave and never understand what went wrong, and what was required of them more than just being popular.
Of course, he won't know this when he is young, and he will be a weak people pleaser and let her be in charge. But eventually as the family goes to rack and ruin, and when she suffers and wants something from him, he will be given the opportunity to sober up from his sex and sports, and if he does, he will have to search within for the wisdom and patient strength that he does not now have, but needs for his family.
Alas, many men will resent the family and leave. Others will become angry and wrong. Others will secretly resent her and sit around and say nothing.
But some men will wake up and realize they have not been there for the family. He will begin to mature, and with time, will become the noble knight she and the kids needs him to be.
Soooo, ladies. What to do? If your husband does not talk to you, first stand back and make sure that you are not such a force that you are overpowering him. For example, many men shut down and won't share anything with his partner because he does not want to be judged.
I was recently talking to a man who got a traffic ticket. When he shared this with his wife, she told him he should not drive and should ride a bike. In other words she judged and blamed him. Her mother chimed in and backed up the wife--both agreeing that he should ride a bike, or as the mother in law suggested, walk to work.
He may never tell her anything again.
Make sure that you are not emasculating him by quickly rushing to do things out of resentment, instead of graciously demurring, so that he has a chance to do it himself. Of course, some men are so weak that they will never do what needs to be done, but it is possible that he became that way through a steady diet of criticism and judgment.
Give him the space to lead. And if he does lead but things don't work out perfectly, refrain from secret or open judgments like "I knew he would mess up. I should have done it myself."
Some women always have to be right. He will eventually shut down and say to himself "let her be right." Then he will sit back on the catbird seat and secretly wait for her to mess up. The roles are reversed. He is the resentful wife husband, and she is the husband wife, with him judging as wrong everything she does.
I recently saw an article in a popular woman's magazine entitled about "how to communicate with your husband." The article turned out to be about how to make him do what you want.
Don't be manipulative. If you let him do things or pretend that he is in charge, you are still in charge. I'm not saying that you can't be in charge of some things, but I am saying that his role, as husband and father, is to be in charge of some very important things. Make sure that he has the space to find himself. He may not. But you can't know, as long as you rush to judge and rush to take charge.
You cannot make a man into a man. If you try, all you might get is a weak man in your image. And you will not be happy with the result.
Now as far as you men go, do I need to spell it out for you? If you are married and have kids, it is too late to be just a big kid. Marriage is not a pleasure party. It is a framework in which to work out your differences and learn to be unselfish. Your wife and kids need you to be a man--to stand for something, to have patience, courage and wisdom. If you are angry, you are weak. If you are resentful, you are weak. If you are a people pleaser, you are weak.
See that much is required of you. Don't look for support from anyone, including your wife. Reach within and find the inner strength and love to be there for your family. When you become right, then you will one day find your family coming to you for advice and counsel because they respect you.