Below is a brief interaction between two married men concerning communication with their wives, taken from the book "Twelve Lies Women Tell Their Husbands" by Tim and Sheila Riter.
"Hey man, you're late. Anything wrong?" Sweat dripped off Alex after fifteen minutes on the treadmill.
"Dude, you wouldn't believe it. But then, you're married, so maybe you will." Don stepped onto the adjoining treadmill and started running.
"I got home from work today and grabbed my gym clothes like I do every Tuesday. Shontell seemed distant, like she'd had another bad day at work. Her boss has been putting a lot of pressure on her to finish that condominium project, and I'm kinda concerned. The baby's due date is still four months away, but I just don't want her to feel any unnecessary stress.
"So I go up to her, give her a hug, and ask if anything's wrong.' No, I'm fine, just fine.' So I told her she could talk to me; I'm her husband. Know what I heard? 'Go. Just go. You're late for your workout with Alex.'
"So I went! But I know I'm going to hear it when I get back. I don't have a clue if it's something wrong at work, or if I did something, but I know it's not over yet."
"Man, why can't women just come out and say what they mean? Danielle does the same thing. We had our tenth anniversary a few weeks back, remember? So a few weeks ahead, I asked her what she'd like to make it special. I'd saved up some extra money just to do it right. She said, 'Just surprise me! The greatest gift is our marriage.'
"I remember I'd heard her talking to a friend about this bed and breakfast inn down the coast. A little pricey, but nice. So I made the reservations, let her know the kind of clothes to bring, and surprised her. She said all the right things, how nice it was, how I surprised her, but her heart didn't seem to be in it.
"I asked her what was wrong, and she kept saying, 'Nothing.' Finally, the last day there, she told me she really had her heart set on a new wedding ring. How was I supposed to know that? She's never said anything about a new ring. Man, I can't figure out women. They just don't say what they mean. They hint, and they want you to read their mind. Then you try to, and you get crucified. Why can't they just tell us straight?"
Oh, I feel the frustration of these two gentlemen, and I can sheepishly recall too many similar incidents in the past between my husband and me. How in the world does this happen?
I think a major problem for me, as probably most other women, is that sometimes I really don’t KNOW what I want or KNOW what is bothering me, ESPECIALLY when I’m emotionally out of sorts. It could be a myriad of issues that, on their own, don’t cause discomfort. But compound them with other factors that silently creep up, and I suddenly feel overwhelmed.
Rick may say to me, “Honey, is there something wrong?” and I might blurt out one thing that’s bothering me. As I walk away, I realize that may not be the core issue that I’m struggling with; it’s something else - a second issue. Rick, then, is focusing on that first issue to try to help. No wonder he gets confused when he comes to me with a solution, and I give him that “You’re such an idiot” look because I’ve moved on to thinking about the third issue that’s affecting me.
It’s as though we women carry a bag of garbage around with us. When things are going well, we don’t need to open the bag. But when our emotions are running high and someone offends us with their words, or our husbands neglect to notice something that’s important to us, or (fill in the blank with hundreds of other reasons), we open up the whole bag and air it out. Not only do we dwell on the here and now issue, but also on everything from the past that we haven’t resolved and still carry with us. We don’t always know what’s at the core of our hurt because our emotions are so intertwined with all our problems.
As husband and wife, we often share in an unhealthy communication “dance.” It is important to recognize what doesn’t work and join together to figure out what does work.