Couples struggle with miscommunications all the time, and one of the big reasons why is because we fail to understand what language our partner is speaking. No, we’re not talking about Spanish vs. English or French vs. Chinese — though it certainly can feel that way sometimes. What we’re talking about is Work Talk vs. Heart Talk.

Below is a quick breakdown of each:

Work Talk

This is the task-oriented, schedule-driven, let’s-get-stuff-done kind of communication that can help make a weekly schedule. It sounds like this: “Let’s divide and conquer this TO-DO list. You go to the grocery and pick up the cleaning. I’ll fill up the car and take the kids to the birthday party. We can fix dinner after we both get back and watch that new movie on Netflix.” It’s all very linear and task-oriented.

Work talk is the fastest path from Point A to Point B. It’s a straight line. It’s the kind of talk that helps us get through the week and gives us a sense of accomplishment.

Heart Talk

This is the opposite. Rather than being a straight line from Point A to Point B, it’s more like a long squiggly line that goes all over the place. It encourages getting in touch with your emotions and verbalizing them in “I feel…” statements that help us better understand our spouse. It helps us see into their view of their current and future hopes and dreams.

This is because heart talk is about:

  • The HEART
  • Feelings and longings
  • Caring and understanding
  • Connection and bonding

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
– J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)

Both types of talk are important for great communication. But you have to know which one your spouse wants!

Do you want me to FIX it or FEEL it?

Here’s a personal story from Susan and me that should drive our point of Work Talk vs. Heart Talk home.

Not too long ago, Susan came home from work terribly frustrated about issues she was having with her internet at work. She and I were sitting there talking, and she said something like, “Man, this internet problem at work is about to drive me crazy. I don’t think I’m ever going to get it fixed.” And so I said something like, “Well, did you talk to the right customer service person?” She immediately said, “no!” And then I said, “Well, you should talk to a supervisor and…”

“NO!” She interjected.

No Solutions(work talk)!  Just let me Vent!

She didn’t want me to give her solutions. I needed to let her vent and be upset. She needed me to listen.

A few days later, we were sitting there talking when she said, “Man, this internet problem at work is about to drive me crazy. I don’t think I’m ever going to get it fixed.” So then I said, “Wow, that’s gotta be really frustrating that you can’t get that done.” And she said, “Well, are you going to help me find some solutions to all of this?” In that instance, she didn’t need to vent. What she really needed was to talk through some things to get this situation fixed.

So the issue here is that sometimes we want heart talk, and other times we want work talk. And it’s OK to ask what kind of conversation that we need to have with our partner.

“The purposes in people’s hearts are deep waters, but a person of
understanding draws them out.” — Proverbs 20:5

What we’re trying to say here is that when you are having conversations with your spouse, know what kind of communication they want to have. And if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ASK!

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Did we leave anything out? What do you think of Heart Talk vs. Work Talk? How do you think you can incorporate this into your marriage and know what your spouse is looking for? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going at