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Learning to better communicate with the males in my life, thanks to reading

Posted September 13

My idea of a dream vacation is to go someplace warm and peaceful, and sit for hours on end buried in a good book.

Hardly anything is more enjoyable to me than reading and talking. I am an active participate in two book clubs every month where I get to spend a heavenly evening divulging, discussing and eating dessert. Each book club has a group of women with different personalities, philosophies and book choices, and both are intriguing, inspiring and fulfilling.

To my husband, nothing sounds more torturous.

“Not only do you think it’s ‘fun’ to read but then you talk about what you read," he told me. "I really can’t imagine something more… boring.” (Still, he married me, a bookworm.)

Really, I've learned quite a bit by reading that's helped me personally. It’s because I’m so obsessed with literature that I’ve learned how to be a “Surrendered Wife” (Laura Doyle) and understanding why “Boys Should Be Boys” (Meg Meeker).

Most recently, one of my book clubs read “The Male Brain” by Louann Brizendine. Besides completely freaking out and panicking because I live with five testosterone-driven males, I actually did learn a lot about why many men think the way they think and why they may act the way they act.

For example: While I love discussing people and thoughts, my husband loves talking about “stuff.” He gets really excited about cars, sports and things. This is something hard-wired into apparently many male brains, I’ve learned from the book. So when I snuggle up to him at night and suggest we vent about our innermost feelings and desires and hear him snoring five minutes later (still insisting he’s “awake”), I now know why.

On the other hand, if I were to snuggle up to him and say, “Let’s talk about why you think tennis pro Kei Nishikori beat Andy Murray at the U.S. Open,” he would be awake for at least another hour excitedly discussing the match, probably even stopping the conversation halfway through to run downstairs and grab his tennis racquet to demonstrate some of the missed shots. (We have a racquet stringer in our master bedroom, by the way. The '80s blue and steel go nicely with my new paisley coral bed sheets. But I digress.)

Learning what really makes the males in my life open up has helped me have successful discussions with them about their days. When I pick up my boys from school and want to hear all about what they did, I’ve found that instead of asking who they talked to, if anything good or bad happened and how they feel about it, if I ask them questions about “things” they are more apt to open up. “Did you show your car for show-and-tell? What did you play at recess? Who did you sit by at lunch and what did you eat? What kinds of books did you read, or math problems did you do?” Talking about stuff and sports are what interest my boys.

My boys not only love to talk about things, but they also love to do things. So while I may like just sitting and chatting at a family dinner, they are all itching to get outside and throw around a Frisbee or football.

For the past month, there have been several times a week after dinner that my husband has taken our boys to the track at the new high school that was built near our house. They love nothing more than running and screaming and being wild, and I love nothing more than them coming home, all sweaty and exhausted, and falling into bed (after a bath, of course).

I love watching them race around the field, laughing and playing. It has been good for me to understand my little men better. I feel like I can be a better mom when I know what makes them tick. And hopefully they can learn to act interested or at least smile and nod around the women they love, like my husband does when I host book club at my house and he walks downstairs for a snack and straight into a discussion about giving ourselves permission to dance through our “brutiful” lives, like “Love Warrior” author Glennon Doyle Melton suggests.

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is carmen.r.herbert@gmail.com.

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