Talk is cheap – but valuable

COMMUNICATION. It's something that trips up even the most committed couples.

Whatever you want to say about equality of the sexes, women tend to be more emotionally literate/verbal than their men. If men have feelings about "issues", generally a bit of prodding will be required. Sometimes the prod will have to be electrified.

But there's another form of communication, besides day to day relationship stuff, that divides the sexes and it's called keeping in touch.

Men tend to use the telephone to relay information; women to connect.

By this reasoning, when a man leaves the nest, he rings to either impart facts or obtain them. What time he will be home, for example, or what it was exactly you wanted at the shops. The exception to this is dirty phone calls, which men are quite happy to participate in at length. That's why those 1900 numbers are so successful.

Recently my friend John, a tour manager, left the domicile for a 50-day tour with a well-known pop star. His work schedule begins at 7am and finishes around 11pm. It's hectic for sure. So hectic, he says, that he doesn't have time to phone or text home.

At the other end of the equation, his partner would like him to check in... maybe something like, hey, are you still alive? How's the dog? Anything exciting happen today? Or even I love you. Text or phone would do, she says. Just not all-encompassing silence.

A compromise was difficult to reach. According to John, he simply didn't have time. By female reasoning, he had the time to check the sport on television, to eat, or to read the newspaper in the bathroom. There's texting time right there.

Always keen to be helpful, I suggested that before his return his partner sells the house and we buy a beach cottage overseas where we will employ hunky menservants to bring us cocktails... leaving no forwarding address. Of course we'd have to take the dog and swear the neighbours to a pact of silence. Because, unless a phone home agreement is reached, who knows what could happen in those 50 days? Anything, really, which is as good a reason as any for keeping in touch.

Having been away for two weeks now, John has phoned home every day. Of course he's asked for it to be logged, but it seems sense has prevailed, or at least female logic.

A 60-second phone call or a three-line text daily will do more for your relationship than you'd imagine. Women hate to think they've been forgotten. But, more than that, they hate to imagine themselves at the bottom of the to-do list.

Helen Hawkes is a life and wellness coach. Contact her through