Mrs. Just Wants To Be Heard frustrated with Mr. Fixit

Q: My wife often vents about problems with her co-workers, friends and family members. I can usually see a reasonable solution, but she never seems to want to hear it. What’s wrong?

Greg Smalley, vice president, family ministries: Here’s the deal — as guys, we like to fix things. That’s a useful skill when it comes to cars and broken lamps, but not so much when it’s your wife.

It’s a pretty common scenario in a lot of relationships. Even now, as a trained expert with more than 25 years of marriage behind me, I still forget and do this to my wife, Erin. She’ll start to share her feelings, and I jump in with the perfect solution before she’s stopped talking. That’s when she’ll cross her arms and look right through me — and I realize I made a big mistake.

This issue gets to the core of who we really are as men and women. Guys try to take the mystery out of things, especially relationships. We reduce things to their basic parts and solve what’s wrong. We’re quick to identify both the problem and the solution, and we want to just get it fixed and move on with the least hassle possible.

However, women generally want to be heard and connected to, not “solved.” It’s part of their relational wiring. The “process of processing” is what helps most women work through things.

So remember this the next time your wife opens up: She’s probably not asking you to crack a code or solve her problem. She just wants you to listen and offer your love, understanding and support.

This is a feature of Focus on the Family.