The woman in her early thirties walked up to me after a luncheon and proudly declared, “I didn’t speak to my husband for three days this week.”
I was stunned. Being a woman, especially a woman of many words, I could not imagine not speaking to my husband for three days.
“Seriously.” I squeaked out. My eyebrows nearly reached my hairline. I was surprised and disappointed. She knew I would not think this was a good plan for her marriage. I had mentored her about her marriage relationship a few times before.
She and her husband were on rocky ground with their communication issues. This time could be the tipping point for permanent damage. Or maybe, this was just the way she wanted to operate within the give and take of their day-to-day interactions. I begin to think, perhaps she likes the drama of it all.
Clear and great communication does take work, but it is not impossible. Men and women at times do seem to speak different languages. My husband and I call it “manese” and “womanese”.
The truth is people just communicate differently. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female. My husband is not a concrete communicator. He thinks he is communicating perfectly well and myself and our kids often need to ask him to explain exactly what he wants us to understand.
We have a funny story about wet leaves that is a perfect example. For years, my husband would say, “be careful of the wet leaves.” Now, being a good wife, I would say, “okay.”
Honestly, I had no fear of wet leaves and didn’t have any concern of leaves causing me harm. I didn’t have a clue why he continued to warn me of these dastardly wicked wet leaves.
Finally, after years of his dire warnings, I got fed of up and in a fit of frustration yelled something about why should I be afraid of leaves. If I remember correctly my fit became more like a several minute rant about his years of Dangerous Leaf Weather Warnings.
He waited until, with my hands on my hips, I puffed with my last full breath, “why should I be careful of the wet leaves?”
My precious, sweet husband quietly said, “they’re slippery.”
“oh”. That’s all I could say in response.
That rant happened nearly fifteen years ago. We laugh about it but also use it as a reminder that we may not be communicated what we think we are. My husband thought by just saying “be careful of the wet leaves”. We would all understand we could slip and fall. None of us did.
The young woman’s silence gained her nothing. Her husband after the three days still had no idea why she was upset. The only thing she had done was alienate him further and continue to keep problems unresolved.
My advice: Say what you mean and make sure the other person clearly understands what you mean. Of course, always be careful of slippery wet leaves!