It is amazing how well two people who supposedly speak the same language can misunderstand each other. We use the same words, in the same way, but have different understandings of what we are saying. Can you ever imagine what happens when each spouse speaks a different language and one does not know the other language well?
This is even compounded more by the fact that tone of voice and body language can change the meaning of the words. It has been said that we have two different versions of the American English language. There's a "male-ese" version and a "female-ese" version. Men only talk and understand male-ese, and women only talk and understand female-ese. The problem comes in when we think that the other sex is speaking the same language that we are.
Generally speaking, men will define a word according to the dictionary definition. Now, they might have learned the wrong definition, but their understanding of the word will be pretty straightforward.
On the other hand, women define a word based upon their experiences with that word. Their definition can change over time, with the good and bad experiences they have with that word.
There is a commonly taught myth that women are great communicators, and men are horrible ones. This comes straight from psychology, and is false. Women are great at communicating with other women, but not with men. Men, on the other hand, are great at communicating with other men, but not with women.
The myth came from the fact that women talk more than men. On the average, women speak about three times as many words in a day than men do. But, it's also a matter of what they speak about.
Women talk about feelings, and do so in great detail. Men talk about thoughts and facts. Women can tell you an entire conversation that they had with someone, while men can only tell you the highlights. Men have a whole conversation in their mind, and tell you the final sentence, while women have an entire conversation with you, and don't tell you the subject.
Women are great communication needers, not necessarily great communicators. Without communication, a woman will dry up like a flower without water. To keep a woman emotionally healthy, she needs to talk to her husband, and hear him talk to her.. I don't mean talking about work, bills, and children either. Women need to share dreams, ideas, deeper thoughts, and desires.
There has been much said about men needing to talk more, and in a way that women will understand. I agree with this, but I don't think that's enough. Not only do men need to talk in a way that women understand, but women need to talk in a way that men understand. We both need to learn the language of the other.
Communication doesn't just mean that we use words to express ideas or feelings, it means that we transfer the understanding of those ideas or feelings to another person. Without that understanding, it is merely a waste of time, not communication.
We have developed a rule in our house that is so simple it should be universal. That is that, whoever is speaking is responsible to make sure they are understood in the way that they mean. Pretty simple, right? Instead of the listener being responsible to decipher what is being said, the speaker must say it in a way that the listener can understand. He, or she, must say it in the other's language.
If you go to China or Russia, it isn't their responsibility to understand you, it's your responsibility to make yourself understood, right? So, we just apply the same rule in our house.
Now, let's go a step further with this idea. Take as an example a typical couple in their home on a Saturday. He spends the whole day working on various things around the house; mowing the lawn, fixing the leaky faucet, hanging the picture she wanted over the sofa.
At the end of the day, he's tired and collapses on the sofa with a cold drink and the TV going. Sometime during the evening, she says to him, "you don't love me." He looks at his wife dumbfounded and says, "I've just spent all day doing things to show you I love you, how can you say I don't love you?" To which she responds, "you never say you love me."
Men and women express love differently. Men express their love by actions, and women by their words. Women need to be told that they are loved, but men demonstrate their love by doing things for the other person. Men need to be shown that they are loved, but women express their love with words.
The result of this, is that both can end up feeling unloved. The woman isn't receiving the loving words she needs, and the man isn't receiving the loving actions he needs. Both can be frustrated because their expressions of love aren't being accepted and appreciated by the other. Taken far enough, both will quit expressing love to the other in any way.
This is another place where we need to communicate in a way the other understands. Men, don't just show your love by doing things for her, tell her you love her as well. Don't stop the actions, because those are necessary too, but make sure you add the words. Give her the opportunity, by the words you speak, to understand that you are doing the actions because you love her.
Women, don't just tell your husband you love them, show them your love with your actions. Do special things for them, that they will like, in order to demonstrate your love in their language, not just your own.
When we both speak and act in the other's language, we will both feel more loved. Instead of strife within the marriage, we'll bless and edify each other.