Sometimes I feel like it would be easier to do a Chinese Crossword puzzle on a rollercoaster than to understand how men and women communicate with one another.
And although I’ve studied it for more than 30 years, I don’t speak fluent female and I’m not sure I ever will.
Allow me to use a piece of cinematic masterpiece in order to illustrate my point.
In the movie The Break-up, Jennifer Aniston’s character comes out of the kitchen and addresses her live-in boyfriend, Vince Vaughn. A party has just occurred at their house and he is fully engaged in playing a video game.
Aniston: “I’m going to go do the dishes.”
Aniston: “It would be nice if you helped me”
He agrees but adds, “Maybe a little bit later, I’m exhausted.”
She wants to do them now. Why? “I don’t like waking up to a dirty kitchen”
So he reluctantly agrees and only to find her even more upset and then saying the classic line “I want you to want to do the dishes” to which Vaughn says, “Why would I want to do the dishes?”
If you’re married or have ever lived with your significant other, you know this argument, and if you’ve seen the movie, you’re thinking “was this screenwriter spying on me?”
What went into this argument, and goes into all the others you’ve ever had, is a four-step breakdown.
It all comes down to timing, setting, mood, and language.
There is no right time of day for a verbal scuffle between lovers, but it just seems to happen that women prefer late evenings, like real late…like eyes are closing and almost in R.E.M. sleep late.
There’s a good reason for it perhaps. As men, we possess a sort of a Barney Rubble-like sophistication when it comes to communication and we fail to recognize the signs that have been festering in our women all day, you know the ones we are supposed to have psychic knowledge about. But more importantly, we always think we can “sleep it off”..and 9 out of 10 times, we could.
Trust me, we could.
I’d think we’d agree that the best time of day to have the “talk” is when our bellies are full. Men think better and more rationally on a full tank.
Hopefully you’re not married or dating anybody who loves the “public drama”. Trust me, there’s definitely a type. Fortunately they come with early warning signs.
I think it’s safe to say the bedroom and the kitchen are the two most popular places to argue. Hmmm, wonder why? Why not quarrel among our primal instincts I suppose. We can end this with a sandwich or a (I’ll let you decide).
The absolute worst place to have an “elevated discussion” is in front of in-laws. Try winning an argument with your wife with your mother-in-law in the room, it’s like boxing a kangaroo with your hands tied behind your back.
Now do you really think I’d be that stupid to go with the obvious here? Not me, way too many years under the belt to make that rookie mistake. But every man has gone there, perhaps on more than one occasion. But use the P word to justify her mood and you might as well put the sheets on the couch yourself.
So what other types of mood can be a factor? Well, in the same way we wouldn’t use the P word, I’d hope you ladies would know better than to mess with our mood on Sundays during fall, that’s something we just crave.
Nope, the mood for a good estrogen vs. testosterone discussion should involve red wine, not too much, just a glass, and a timer. The wine will put you at just enough ease to give in a bit on some things as a compromise and the timer lets you know when enough is enough.
We are much more likely to go with your side of the issue if you wear yoga pants, pajama pants or that white ribbed tank top, I don’t know, I’m just throwing out ideas but what do I know?
There are certain lines you can’t cross and real specific words you cannot retract. Do we need to spell them out? No, I’m pretty sure we are clear on them.
Men communicate in very clear terms. We don’t use code. How novel right?
So David, are you saying that men say what they mean and mean what they say?
Yea, but again, we don’t live in a perfect world so let’s deal in reality.
Women on the other hand seem to thrive on innuendo and body language while possessing the ability to recall verbatim all conversations within the last decade. And even worse, is that perplexed look they give when we don’t comprehend.
But you’re smart ladies, we got to give you that. You know how to use words and context to your advantage. Which, when we are smart can be reversed on you. I remember when my nephew got into his first real lovers quarrel when he was 18. I advised him to turn the tables on her. “Don’t yell. Don’t make accusations like she expects,” I said. Instead I told him to use their own powers against them. Simply say, “you know what, when you did this, it really disappointed me”.
He came to me the next day as if I were Merlin and had all the answers to life’s problems.
Fact is, nobody has the answers. And while we can have fun poking fun, the way we speak to one another really makes a huge difference in our lives. And who is better to work on communication with than your significant other?
Socially Speaking, I think we all need to take a page from the real Vince Vaughn who said “When you’re younger, you feel like work is work and relationships are supposed to be easy. As you get older, you realize you have to work at relationships to make them sustainable.”