“Some people try to turn back their odometers. NOT ME! I want people to know WHY I look this way. I’ve travelled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved”—Unknown
I am not ready to say that I am ‘old’ yet but I will concede that I have been around long enough to have learned a few things of value. I have gained an understanding about the trials and tribulations of trying to make ourselves understood to others and in particular to our wives or husbands. Our inability to make ourselves understood is likely the main cause of most divorces, separations and conflicts in our homes and our workplaces.
Here’s some of the things I found out:
1. That men and women, although we use the same words, speak vastly different languages. We use words that sound the same but in context have very different meanings and unless we understand this point and unless we somehow ‘get’ what is really being said we are destined to live in a world of constant resentments, anger, frustration and unrest in our lives. If we are trying to understand what a wife or husband is trying to say two things need to happen: We don’t interrupt one another and we stop the conversation periodically to check to make sure that each understands what the other is trying to say–we stay on point that way. There really is a man’s context and a woman’s context.
2. Understand that we both have good points to be made and that no one is more right than the other. Different views perhaps but no more right than the other. Each needs an opportunity to start and finish their thoughts on things without interruption granting the other person will have the same opportunity to do so. People are less likely to butt into a conversation if they know that they will get their chance to say what they need to say.
3. As a couple there needs to be ‘rules for fair fighting’ established and agreed upon. That might include things like not using sarcasm or ridicule to make a point, no name calling or threatening, let the other guy speak without butting in, a chance to stop for a minute to gather oneself–to walk away to another room and then return. There are others but you get the gist I’m sure.
I have created a list of do’s and dont’s, in no particular order of importance. I hope these suggestions will assist women to be more successful sharing their thoughts and ideas with the men they are connected to. As I have said many times–I have never been female so I have very little idea of what goes on in their heads. I can’t, therefore, speak to what they need and don’t need. My sincere hope is that a female out there will create a similar list that will assist men in the same way.
1. If you don’t want to hear the answer then don’t ask the question.
2. Understand that there is little in this world more fragile than the male ego. Once it has been challenged or assaulted in some way the battle is on and it can get ugly.
3. Never mistake gentility and compassion in a man for weakness. We have feelings too just like other people.
4. Three things that every man needs: a) companionship; b) knowing that he is admired and respected for something that he does well, and c) knowing that his counsel and his knowledge have value and they are important.
5. If we walk away, its usually because we need time to think and not because we don’t care. Most of us don’t do frustration and incompetence very well so we need a few minutes to cool off and re-group. Leave us alone and we’ll get back to you when we collect our thoughts.
The complete list of ‘suggestions’ can be found at the back of my book called “A Man’s Work Is Never Done . . . A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons. ( Further information at jamescloughley.com)
If you are looking for other resources regarding all this stuff check out a book by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. She is a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and an expert in the field. It is an excellent book with a easily understood context.
NEXT WEEK I’LL CARRY ON WITH THE LIST. PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG TO FRIENDS OR FAMILY WHO MAY BENEFIT–THANK YOU FOR YOUR INTEREST AND YOUR TIME.