George was a thoughtful husband. He wanted to give his wife something special for her birthday which was coming up soon. As he sat on the edge of the bed, he watched his wife turning back and forth and looking at herself in the mirror. “Reta,” he said, “What would you like for your birthday?”
His wife continued to look at herself and said, “I’d like to be six again.”
George knew just what to do. On the big day, he got up early and made his wife a bowl of Fruit Loops. Then he took her to an amusement park where they rode all the rides. Five hours later, Reta’s stomach felt upside down and her head was reeling. Nevertheless, George took her to McDonald’s and bought her a Happy Meal with extra fries and a chocolate shake. Next, it was a movie with popcorn, soda and her favorite candy.
As Reta wobbled into the house that evening and flopped on the bed, George asked her, “Well, Dear, what was it like to be six again?”
Reta looked up at him. Her expression changed. She said, “I meant my dress size!”*
Whether a single or married person, we’ve all experienced similar communication breakdowns in relationships. In marriage, especially, we have to give our partners an A+ for effort, because they may not really have a clue what we need, or they may misunderstand when we tell them!
In Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti,** Bill and Pam Farrel tell the story of a couple who came to a counselor on the brink of divorce. The counselor asked the wife, “Does your husband beat you up?”
She answered, “No, I beat him up by several hours every morning.”
Then the counselor asked the husband, “Do you have a grudge?”
The husband responded, “No, we have a carport.”
The counselor, getting a little exasperated, asked the couple, “What grounds do you have for your problems?”
The wife answered, “We have about four acres.”
Finally, the counselor said, “Why did you come in here today?”
Together, they said, “We can’t seem to communicate.”
Bill and Pam share some excellent advice on communication in Chapter Two of their book. Here are three simple concepts:
- “Whoever begins a specific conversation should be the one to set the pace for the conversation.”
- “[Men], When your wife begins a conversation with you, assume that she needs you to connect the issues of her life together. She doesn’t need you to work your male logic into her thinking process … Pack your bags, go on the journey, and encourage her to take the conversation wherever she wants … Just because you, as a man cannot keep up wither her does not mean that your way is better. If you are willing to serve this need of hers, you will be married to a much happier woman. “
- “Ladies, when it is your husband’s turn to talk, you need to practice staying in the box he wants to open … He wants to have what he considers to be a reasonable conversation with you. He wants it to stay on track. He wants to identify the problem, evaluate the options, commit to a solution, and see it work out … The problem is we women are very impatient listeners. We often think that because men don’t process life the way we do they are unfeeling and uncaring, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Of course, these principles also work in other man/woman relationships. It’s a matter of understanding how men and women think. I encourage you to get this excellent book, because the Farrels share so many other excellent relationship guideposts in this and every chapter!
And these scriptures give us wisdom about the attitudes we should exhibit and the kind of vocabulary to use in our conversations: Ephesians 4:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 5:4; James 1:19. We need to give each other a lot of grace in conversations. Give people the benefit of the doubt ~ an A+ for effort.