I cannot tell you how many times my wife has been bothered by something I did or said that stayed on her mind all day long. Over and over it plays in her mind… “Why did he say that?”, “What was he thinking?”, “He made me feel like this…”, “What he did bothered me because…”, “He must’ve meant something different”, “How does this affect our children?”and on and on.
At the end of the day, I get home from work having no idea what she’s been internally processing all day and then she asks, “Can we talk?”. Very early in the conversation I realize that a) I had no idea that she was bothered by something I did or said and b) she’s obviously been thinking about this all day. So, I do what any unsuspecting spouse would do. I say, “Can we talk about this later?”
There’s a whole lot behind this question that I believe some spouses, usually ladies, do not understand. Research suggests that ladies naturally process their feelings, thoughts and emotions out loud and on the fly. And that’s a good thing. That’s why when I ask my wife, “Can we talk?” she generally embraces it because it means we are about to connect. She doesn’t mind chatting with me about feelings, even if she doesn’t initially know the direction the conversation is headed.
Research also suggests that men do not do as well processing thoughts, feelings and emotions out loud in the midst of the conversation, especially without being forewarned. We need space and time to understand our own place in any given issue. That’s why my “Can we talk about this later?” question was meant to be interpreted as, “I need some time to mentally revisit what caused the issue, think through why I may have done or said it, and gather my thoughts so that we can have a conversation that is truly reflective of the type of relationship we desire to have.”
I know it’s hard, but try giving a little time and space for your spouse to process before you hash it out. Then, choose a time the two of you agree on (within 24 hours, but the quicker the better), and revisit the conversation so that no issue becomes bigger than your relationship.