John Bytheway: Men talk for information, women talk for interaction

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Communication and understanding are key to helping improve husbands, John Bytheway said in his Education Week address Wednesday afternoon.

Bytheway emphasized the fact that men and women communicate differently and it is important to understand how we communicate in order to help each other.

Education Week attendees laugh at John Bytheway's jokes during his talk about men and women understanding each other. (Photo by Elliott Miller)
Education Week attendees laugh at John Bytheway’s jokes during his talk about men and women understanding each other. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

Men and women want to feel acceptance from their spouses, according to Bytheway.

“A man who knows he has the love of his wife today, in spite of his weaknesses, wants to become better for her tomorrow,” Bytheway said. “Love and admire the man your husband is right now.”

In order to solve the problem in marriage, the problem must first be identified.

Bytheway list three categories of marital problems: value, motivation and competency. Three simple questions address these problems. The question of “should I?” indicates the person has a problem with the value of problem. The “will I?” question indicates the person has a problem with the motivation behind what they are doing, and finally the question of “can I?” which shows that the person is afraid of their competency in the task presented to them.

Once a person has recognized the problem they are better able to communicate with their spouse, according to Bytheway.

“When you know exactly what the expectations are you can give the desired result,” Bytheway said.

While quoting Elder Neal A. Maxwell, late member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bytheway pointed out that in marriage, man and wife are meant to help each other overcome inadequacies.

John Bytheway speaks about men and women understanding each other in their relationships. (Photo by Elliott Miller)
John Bytheway speaks about men and women understanding each other in their relationships. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

“Brethren, marry someone who is your better in some respects,” said Maxwell as quoted by Bytheway. “And sisters, do likewise, so that your partnership is one of compensating competencies.”

Bytheway emphasized that sometimes the problem in communication is a husband or wife has the motivation to do a task, but they don’t know how, much like Romans 7:18 states, “for to will is present in me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”

Clarifying expectations with each other is important for women to do with their husbands, said Bytheway.

“If you’re going to clarify your expectations you are going to have to talk to each other,” he said.

It is important to understand that men are defensive listeners continued Bytheway.

“There are three things that men want to know when engaging in a conversation with a woman,” Bytheway said. “One, is it going to be painful? Two, how long is this going to take? And three, What do you want from me when this conversation is over?”

After reading a book by author Deborah Tannen called “You Just Don’t Understand,” Bytheway said he had an epiphany.

“Men talk for information, women talk for interaction,” Bytheway said. “This all makes so much sense to me. Women bond through conversation, while be men bond through activity. This is important to understand about each other.”

As a word of final advice, Bytheway said in order for women to get their husbands to listen to them better they need to break their tasks into smaller parts and clarify their expectations to their spouse.

“Harmony is being different together and accepting that difference,” he said.

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