When talking with women

No, I haven’t forgotten. And yes, I offered the opportunity of writing this post to my husband, who laughed out loud.

“No, really,” I said, “would you?”

“I know better than that!” he said.

So I waited.

Two days later I asked him again. He looked startled and said “Goodness, when?” Which being interpreted is, “I would be so delighted to do this thing for you, my dear, truly I would. But as you know, I am much occupied in the winning of bread and the performing of other manly offices. You go right ahead: I believe in you.”

At least, I’m sure it went something like that…

*****

coffee

When talking with women

1. Say a lot

If the rule for women is 49%, the rule for men must be 210%. Which means, you say what you’re thinking—like open your mouth and let it all out—and then look deeply into her eyes and lower your voice and say it all again in slightly different words, gently. Adding a little extra that you thought of during the second go.

You see, when you don’t say what you’re thinking she thinks about what you’re thinking, and 99% of the time she ramps it too high, too dark, too horrible. What you say is less viral than what you don’t say. But please. For your own sake as well as hers, say it

2. Carefully.

I don’t mean to be rude, and I’m making a point of saying that you men are good at many things—if the world depended on me to pound nails and build websites and grow beards and stuff we’d all be dead by now—but really? the subtle cue thing is a little lost on you.

Kronk described it well: “the Cold Shoulder, the Frenzied Eyebrow, the Grimace of Doom, the Sneer of Despair, the Crippling Wince of Guilt, the Scowl of Impending Wrath, and worst of all, the Nostril Flare of Total Rejection.”

Little things like that. It’s important to stay tuned, men, or honestly? You’ll never know what hit you. Even though she gave you fair warning.

3. Ask questions.

I am probably betraying my half of the species by admitting it, but women love questions. Not “Where’d you get this cut of meat and how much did you pay for it and did you remember to fill the car with gas?” but “How was your day? Are things going better with that friendship you talked about last week? What do you think about…?”

When the words “Talk to me, hon. What are you feeling?” come out of your mouth, you achieve instant hero status. Her whole world lights up.

And in the end, if this is all too tall an order and too hot a minefield, do this little thing:

4. Listen well.

Look into her eyes, lay down the paper or the laptop or the smartphone at least for a time, and make sympathetic noises. Grunts are good. Chuckles. Sighs. {Just no farts or hiccups, por favor.}

This will please her. She will go away thinking what a great conversationalist you are.

*****

So then… after my husband said No, he produced this brilliance:

  • Listen much. Talk little.*
  • Your wife can’t read your mind. Surprise, surprise.
  • “I’m sorry” is not an admission of guilt. Unless you are. Then it is.
  • You both lose arguments unless you’re on the same team.
  • Listen when she talks. Then listen when you talk.
  • If you’re in deep doodoo, stop digging.

* No, this is not the same viewpoint as the one his wife expressed above. I’m leaving it in, with a disclaimer—unlike his last point, which I struck from the record entirely: something about “if you have something difficult to say and you don’t know how to say it—don’t.” Utter poppycock. Well, well. You see we are still under construction.

In short, good luck to you boys: you will need it. May your race increase.

*****

I am not sure if any of this is true. Persons of either gender should feel free to amend and correct. I should, however, like to state for the sake of anyone who is in doubt that I am madly in love with my husband.

And as always… But Of Course There Are Obvious Exceptions. You may be one: in which case you may x this window and say “That woman does not have a clue what she’s talking about.” You would be quite right. Although I would prefer that you’d say it to my face. Twice over. Gently.

15 thoughts on “When talking with women

  1. Ahhh, Shari….you make me laugh! 🙂 I would have to say, though, that I think both you AND your husband are correct – When you’re planning an event or telling about the men’s meeting or saying how you feel or making a decision: Say A Lot! When she’s telling you her problems or how she feels or what she wishes: Listen Much. Talk Little. 🙂

    It’s good to know we’re all under construction, right where God wants us!

  2. I love this! Just a few notes from experience:

    I don’t expect Daryl to listen well when, for example, his favorite song comes on in the van. Or accuweather comes on during a break on the radio. Or, he’s engrossed in “The Blaze”. Or he’s at work with his 2 bosses in the vehicle with him. Or he’s hurried to get to a meeting on time, and my day is hay-wire. Or when I’m really a nut-case, which of course, doesn’t happen much. I’ve learned WHEN to expect him to listen well.

    I’ve also learned he’s pretty good at saying a lot, when I don’t. I’m grateful that I learned that several years ago. I was thinking there really wasn’t much in him, till I waited in silence to find out.

    I’m blessed by his calling me mid-day — checking with how lunch went with a friend, or asking how my phone conversation went, etc. He is really quite thoughtful… when I think rationally about it. 🙂

  3. This was very entertaining! But here’s my question: are there ANY other women out there who are actually the quiet ones in the relationship? Or am I truly a strange bird? (I’m OK with it, just wondering.) 🙂

    • YES, Jo! There are many women who are the quiet ones—I know some of them. Not that they would answer your question and speak for themselves here… (Okay, that was halfway between a joke and a dare.)

      I am painting in over-broad strokes for the sake of humor and argument. There are many talkative men and quiet women in the world. The thing I’ve noticed is that in an ultra-safe relationship with nothing to prove (like marriage), women generally talk more than usual and men less. But this is not a rule that applies to all situations. I’m happy God didn’t make us all the same. Just go with it! There is a whole book entitled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. 🙂

      • I’m a quiet one, Jo, although Shari is right that feeling safe in a relationship does make a difference. However, sometimes I think of something I could say to my husband if I felt like it, but it seems like too much bother to bring up and hash out. So I say nothing.

        See, Shari? I took up your dare. But what really brought me out was your mention of Quiet. Did you read it? If so, what did you think of it?

  4. Sounds like an interesting book. 🙂 I wasn’t criticizing your view – I definitely get what you’re saying and I also know that most of my friends would fit your description. I’m okay (usually) with being an introvert but I do sometimes find myself a bit jealous of those people who can chit chat with anyone at any time.Bless you for writing and giving us food for thought!

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