What Cavemen Can Teach Us About Love

04/01/2015 03:36 pm ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

How well do you communicate with your man?

Do you end each conversation feeling fully understood and heard?

Do you find that when you ask him to do something, he does it, and there are no miscommunications or misunderstandings?

Does he listen eagerly to what you have to say?

Or do you sometimes feel like he's just watching your lips move and waiting for you to finish?

If you answered the above questions with anything other than a resounding "YES!" then you don't need to read this post.

But if you didn't, then you probably need to learn something critical about how men and women communicate, and some simple adjustments you can make to help you be "heard" better than ever before.

Here's what we mean:

Why Men Use Fewer Words Than Women


"Let's go over there."

"It's getting dark. Let's go home."

"I'll meet you at the other side."

These are examples of the kinds of communication men had to use for centuries in order to fulfill their role in the tribe as the hunters.

They weren't eloquent or detailed. Nothing in there about how they plan to attack. Or what they were feeling. Or what they were looking at and observing.

Just short, to the point, necessary information.

Now, men aren't hunting for survival anymore. But for hundreds of years, communicating in bursts of essential information was what it took to provide for their families and community.

If they said much more, the animal they were hunting might hear them and run off.

We call this "digital communication," and it still highly influences the way men communicate and take in information.

That doesn't mean that they can't share their feelings, or have long conversations, or appreciate and observe nuance and beauty.

It just means that sometimes the best way to open a conversation and reach them in a way so they can truly hear you, is by simplifying what you say.

Translating "Fire Talk" to "Hunter Talk"

What does simplifying mean?

For women, more information is usually better. As the heart and voice of the hearth and builder of communities, women protected their family's well being through strong relationships and needed the flow of conversation to bond with others and learn the information that affected their family's survival, status and happiness.

Conversation passed the time, connected them to others, and provided insights into emotional nuances that would impact the community's well-being.

Centuries later, women still have more facility with expressing and identifying emotions, building strong, fast bonds, and creating intimacy through conversation.

It's a powerful skill.

And because you have more insight into the emotional undercurrent beneath words, and an ability to connect through conversation, you want to learn how to translate those natural strengths to reach a man where he is.

So, if you are upset that he didn't do the dishes when he was supposed to, resist your need to list everything that impacted your feelings and disappointment when you share these feelings with him.

Because when you share everything, he hears nothing.

You may want to say something like this:

"Why didn't you do the dishes? You know I had a long work day and was totally exhausted when I got home. I still need to help our kids with homework and bath time, and have a presentation to prepare tomorrow. You said you would handle it, and you didn't. I ended up doing it because you know that if we leave the dishes in the sink, it will be much harder to clean later..."

But, you would have far more success if you said this:

"I'm upset you didn't do the dishes. You said you would."

By changing how you say what needs to be said, he is able to hear all of the important information. He doesn't start tuning out, and he doesn't start getting defensive about secondary items (homework, bath time, long day at work).

That doesn't mean that you can't share your feelings of overwhelm and stress with the other areas of your life. You just need to pace it differently.

Why It's Hard to Believe... But True

It may seem weird that our roles as men and women still impact how we communicate today.

You wouldn't be the first person to read this post and think, "This is so outdated. Why am I thinking about how men and women communicated before we had fire? Things are so different now."

But we spent centuries in these older roles, and we've only had a few hundred years in our new ones. (Arguably, only decades!)

The influences run deep, like it or not.

If you think about every time you shared a lot with your man, and he heard very little -- if anything at all -- then you know what we are saying rings true.

If you pay attention to how men talk to each other (for example, think of football!) vs. how women talk amongst themselves, then you know that our old gender roles still impact us today.

The problems that arise because of this difference are significant.

We can't share what's important to each other.

We both feel like the other never listens.

We tune out. Or opt out. Or run out.

But the good news is, once we identify the hidden influences running below the surface, we are empowered to make changes to reverse all that damage, bring us closer together, and thrive as a couple.

Katie and Gay's free relationship e-newsletter, Hearts In Harmony, explores the challenges and glories of lasting love. Based on the tools they've developed throughout their 30+ year marriage and taught to thousands, you'll learn powerful insights and practical techniques you can start using today -- whether you're in a relationship or eager to attract one.