“Honey, could you clean out the garage today?” says wife over breakfast.
“No, ” says husband. “I have other plans.”
Oh dear. there went that cosy breakfast down the drain…
Obviously, this is a relatively new marriage, as the man has as yet not cottoned on to how female communication works.The wife isn’t asking him if he can clean out the garage, she is telling him to. Women do that; we disguise our orders in questions, because we feel it sounds nicer if we do so.The man is taking what she says literally. (BIG mistake) So, because he’s planning to work on his golf swing, he tells her “No, I can’t.”
Us women would consider this to be the man’s problem. We’re being pretty clear, we think. Probably, we’ve been hinting at the dismal state of the garage for some days by now, and the fact that these hints haven’t led to the desired action requires us to become more direct. Men, on the other hand, shake their heads. If we want them to do something, could we please be good enough and spell it out?
As the relationship develops, the man will of course learn that the answer to the wife’s question-slash-order is to say “Sure” and then go off to do the golf swing thing. After all, the day is long, and the garage will be around tomorrow too. Besides, should the wife be somewhat upset by the fact that the golf swing is polished and ready to go while the garage is still a chaotic mess, the experienced man is quite good at saying “yes, dearie” at the right time. It becomes instinctive, I suppose.
“Do I look fat in this?” says she, appearing in the doorway
“You look great, honey,” says he, barely raising his eyes from the newspaper.
“Huh, you always say that,” she mutters. (Well he should: any man with self-preservation knows it is the equivalent of committing harakiri to say “yes, honey, I think you do. I love you anyway, but you are looking somewhat plump around the edges. Too many love-handles, sweetie.”)
“Because it’s true,” says the experienced husband, lifting his mug to sip at his tea. Interestingly enough, I have come to the conclusion that most men actually don’t spend all that much time considering how their wives look. They’ve married them, made up their minds that they love them, and as they tend to be far more forgiving towards themselves (and their wives) than women in general are, they’re fine with those extra pounds around her waist. She, however, isn’t.
Yet another example:
Hubby comes home, drops a kiss on her cheek, grabs a beer and sits down in front of the TV. After like fifteen minutes, the husband realises something is wrong. You see, she isn’t talking. At all. Not that he tends to listen with more than half an ear as she fills him in on the latest news re her work, their children, her best friend, but there tends to be some sort of communication going on, with her talking and him saying things like “Really?” or “Ah,” in the right places. But today, the silence is absolute. And chilly.
“What’s the matter?” says he, after having discarded the idea of ignoring her sudden muteness. Experience has taught him such a tactic can lead to the equivalent of an ice age.
Now, dear male reader, if you don’t know this yet, wise up quickly. When a woman says “Nothing”, this translates as “everything, you moron!”
Our experienced husband begins to fidget. Discreetly he produces his mobile phone to flip through the calendar. Has he forgotten her birthday (men rarely do) their anniversary (once again, most men remember – helped along by the fact that the wife tends to drop hints the size of elephants for like four weeks before the date so as to avoid becoming disappointed) Had he promised her to eat out? He sneaks a look at his wife. She is looking very grim. Finally she turns to glare at him
“You haven’t noticed, have you?”
“Umm…” (Trick question. he can’t say ‘yes’ as he has no idea what she’s referring to, he can’t say ‘no’ as that will brand him as an unobservant fool)
“You never notice! You take me for granted.” She motions at her hair.
“No I don’t!” (and he doesn’t, cross his beating heart. It’s just that he isn’t all that into checking her hair for highlights. As far as he’s concerned, she was a blonde when they married, and she’s still a blonde. The fact that it quite often comes out of a bottle these days is neither here nor there. And to give him his due, he would have noticed had she gone for fire-engine red.)
The savvy woman would have made sure her husband knew she was going to the hairdresser – the more heartache we can avoid the better – just like the savvy woman will tell her husband that today she’s going for a facial and (wink, wink) a leg wax. The savvy husband should then immediately enter a reminder on his phone. “Comment on hon’s hair/legs/face”.
Successful couples overcome these communication challenges. He becomes adept at hearing the important stuff and using tone of voice and body language to translate it. She becomes better at being more direct. And when he or she say “I love you” it means pretty much the same, except that she will probably say it far more often than he does – us women do that. Of course, at times one doesn’t need words. At times it suffices with a look, or the pressure of a warm hand on an uncovered back, to convey so much more than mere words can do.