Men hate being wrong.
It’s a stereotype, but it’s often the truth.
Think of all the ways a man can mess up in a relationship.
He can fail to buy the gift you really wanted for your birthday.
He can fail to say what you really needed to hear when you were upset.
He can fail to do that important thing you were relying on him for.
And he knows it.
He knows there are many, many ways he can mess up.
When he messes up and you call him out on it, what he hears (even though it’s not what you said) is that he’s failed.
He failed at being a good boyfriend. He failed at making you happy.
When a man fails enough, he decides there’s no point. Why bother trying, if it will never be good enough?
For you, that response doesn’t make any sense.
If the tables were turned and he told you that you were doing something wrong, you’d feel bad but you’d also be glad he told you, because now you can fix it.
Some men won’t tell you, though. They know it would upset you. They’d rather put up with it than say something and make you feel bad.
And secretly they wish you’d do the same.
But you know that relationships depend on honest communication.
You need to tell each other how you feel. Especially if one of you is upsetting the other person or letting them down.
Aren’t relationships about learning how to be there for each other and work together?
Because so many couples struggle with this issue, let’s take a look at what you can do when he’s let you down.
You needed him to do something, and he didn’t do it.
How can you talk to him about it without making him defensive?
Try these 3 tips…
Tip #1. Allow Him to Save Face
When you see that your guy didn’t do something he promised you he’d do, what’s the first thought that goes through your mind?
Is it, “He didn’t do this, so it’s clear he doesn’t care about me or care about the relationship”?
That’s certainly how it feels.
But jumping to that conclusion can turn a simple mistake into a serious argument.
Do you want to get into that argument with him?
Or do you just want to get him to do what he promised?
If your goal is to get him to do what he promised, then don’t make this about the relationship or his commitment to you. Make sure your words aren’t laced with disappointment.
Instead, let him save face.
Assume it was a simple mistake, and give him a second chance to be your hero.
You can say something like:
“I don’t think I communicated this properly, but would you do X for me? It needs to be done by tomorrow. I apologize if I didn’t make that clear before.”
Tip #2. Use His Preferred Communication Style
Your guy is watching a game on TV. You ask him if he’d pick some things up at the store. He says, “Sure.”
That night, you open the fridge. You don’t see the groceries you asked him to buy. You ask him whether he went to the store.
You see red when he answers, “No. Why? Did you want me to?”
Incredibly frustrating, right?
But let’s take a step back and examine what’s going on here.
For communication to occur, two things need to happen.
- You need to say something.
- He needs to hear and process what you said.
You may only feel responsible for the first part. You know that it’s up to you to tell him what you need.
Surely it’s his job to take care of the second part. He needs to pay attention to you.
But great communicators know their words are wasted air unless their audience is receiving them.
You can shout as loud as you want, but if a brass band is playing, few people will catch what you’re saying.
And a man engrossed in a game may not hear you no matter how clearly you’re speaking.
Here’s a better way of making sure he’s getting what you have to say.
Ask him this:
“When I need you to do something, what’s the best way to communicate that?”
Would he prefer you write it on a note and hand it to him?
Would he prefer you send him a text so it’s on his phone?
Would he prefer you hang up a whiteboard and write the tasks for the week on it?
Tip #3. Remove Obstacles
Of course you get irritated when you notice he didn’t do what you asked.
But maybe there was a reason.
Maybe something got in his way.
Perhaps he didn’t put his dirty laundry into the hamper because the hamper was in the bathroom and someone was in there.
Perhaps he didn’t put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher because the dishwasher was full of clean dishes.
Instead of harshly judging him for failing to follow through, ask him what happened with curiosity.
Is there a reason he couldn’t do it?
Is there something you can do to make it easier for him next time?
This is an example of systems thinking. Organizations use this type of thinking to spot weak points in their work flows.
You can use systems thinking by looking for any obstacles that could be blocking him from doing what he promised.
Sometimes making a few simple adjustments—like moving the laundry hamper to the bedroom—is all that’s needed.
Soon, instead of catching him doing something wrong, you’ll be thanking him for remembering.