This is the first of a series of posts in which Chris Taylor (of Forgiven Wife) and I dialogue about ideas and issues brought up in her post, A Wife’s Heart. (Here are the links to part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 and part 8.) Chris and i have chosen colors to help with reading clarity in trying to incorporate our comments into her original text; my comments are in blue and Chris’s in purple. In this section, Chris presented the basic (classic?) difference in how she and her husband communicate:
The Heart of My Refusal
My heart issues began with some baggage I brought into my marriage. The heart of my refusal, however, lay in relational hurt.
I am married to a good man—one whose love for me and commitment to our marriage has modeled Christ for me in a way nothing else has. The poor guy just didn’t know what to do with a wife who lived everything through her emotions—and he made a lot of mistakes.
My biggest hurt was the lack of emotional connection in our marriage. (I’ve written about it here.) The only feeling he ever communicated to me was, “I’m horny.” When I tried to share my own emotions with him, his usual response was either “Get to the point,” or “I don’t need to know that. Just tell me what I asked.”
Tangent #1 – Chris, when I read this portion, I remembered the viral internet video, It’s Not About The Nail. It vividly illustrates the different mindsets of men and women. Yes, women archetypically process events through emotions and conversation, and men archetypically just want to fix things, so that it’s over and done with. It needs to be acknowledged that neither approach is right or wrong, that gender differences are what they are.
Wait, what? Neither approach is right? I want to completely disagree with that, but I can’t.
I detest that video, and I am intrigued by the fact that I do. I recognize that sometimes it is about the nail. However, my husband likes to use that as a way of saying “because it’s sometimes about the nail, my attempt to fix is going to be right some of the time and is therefore justified all of the time.”
I marvel at your ability for self-discovery and -analysis. Something bothers you and you immediately recognize it, and seek to find out why.
Try it. You’ll like it. (No, actually, you probably won’t like it—but it is good for you nonetheless.)
I, on the other hand, usually don’t care. After all, I’m right. I haven’t figured out if that’s a gender thing or a Curmudgeon thing.
Likely it’s both gender and Curmudgeon.
Given that we have this particular archetypal gender difference (Mr. Fix-It and Mrs. I-Need-to-Talk-About-My-Feelings), how would you suggest that husbands and wives deal with a situation in which one thinks it’s about the nail and the other things it’s about feelings? How have you used your understanding of this difference to benefit your own marriage?
Seriously, it wouldn’t have killed the guy to start off with an “I’m sorry you’re hurting. That must be awful for you.”
Nope – did you ever tell him, “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to say ‘Sorry you’re hurting, must be awful.’” * snort *
Yes, I did. I also told him that a hug was never the wrong response. (On occasion he needs to remind me that I said that.) Of course, it took me twenty years for it to occur to me that telling him what I would consider the right response would spare us both from me feeling obligated to point out what he was doing wrong.
Tangent #2 – That said, what is also true is that both mindsets can be and are abused. I worked at Shirley Christian Bookstore while I went to college, and one day, after directing a customer to a requested title, Mr. Shirley asked to come into the back room. He looked at me and said, with kindly intentions, “You’re an abrupt bastard.” When the customer had asked for the title, I, with my usual manner, said something to the effect that the book was on such-and-such shelf, and pointed to it. Mr. Shirley wanted me to realize that instead of just pointing, I should have walked with her to the shelf, and placed the requested book in her hand.
The customer did find the book and purchased it, but Mr. Shirley was right. I could have been more solicitous of the customer’s request, giving better service. Yes, she found the desired book, but I’m not so sure that she would have rated her experience at Shirley Books positively.
Were you able to apply this to an understanding of how to be a good husband for Mrs. CSL?
Um, see above. “I’m right”. And that sort of revelation, for me at least, needs to be repeated more than once, which it was. 🙂
One of the areas where my husband and I buck the stereotypes is that he loves to ask for directions and I can’t stand to do so. I love maps, and I love navigating when we go somewhere. I take it personally that he ever thought he might want a GPS.
When I am at a store and can’t find something, it really bothers me when I have to ask where something is. I want to be told what aisle or shelf it’s on and then left alone. It’s intrusive to me.
Whether or not you are or ever were “an abrupt bastard,” I would have been quite happy to have you as my bookstore clerk.
It is important for my husband and me to understand each other as individuals. While stereotypes of gender differences have often been accurate for us, we have had to learn to pay attention rather than assume.
Absolutely. Whether it’s called “caring”, “soliticitousness”, or “love”, it is the internalizing, the living out of the truth, “It’s not about you.”
Tangent #3 – That settles it – I’m going to write a post for Boob Honkers, about how honking a boob is not really a great initiation strategy.
Chris, I have read everyone of your Forgiven Wife posts, and so I feel that I’ve learned a lot about your husband, and while I don’t share his, ahem, bedside manner, I feel I understand the guy. I’m not a Boob Honker, but I am an inveterate Fanny Slapper (it’s a generational thing). While I’ve never thought of fanny patting as initiation, I have insisted to Wife that it is Biblical. After all, Jesus did say, “Turn the other cheek.”
Here’s what I have to say about that:
Image courtesy of James Barker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Several years ago, I was having lunch with several women at work. The conversation turned to our husbands.
* groan * * roll eyes *
We all said that when we were done showering, we would put a robe on, be sure we’re properly covered in case kids popped out of their bedrooms, and go back into the bedroom where we would turn away from our husbands while getting dressed.
Our husbands, on the other hand, would strut down the hallway despite the existence of kids, walk into the bedroom, and expect us to be impressed by the waggling of body parts at us. What’s up with that?
I can see that I will be writing a blog post about Getting In the Spirit of Bawdy Badinage, soon.
Do men think that the displaying of parts or the honking of a breast or the slapping of a fanny is arousing to us, or is it an attempt to communicate something different to us? You say it isn’t initiation, but what is it?
If a goob, not mentioning any names, mind you, truly thinks a Boob Honk is arousing, he needs to take classes.
I suspect that for some guys, it is a matter of doing unto their wives what they would have their wives do unto them. Some guys might appreciate a honk of a different nature.
My husband and I recently had a conversation about differently arousal works for each of us. We have both adopted the practice of doing to the other what we know the other would appreciate, even if it doesn’t do anything in particular for us.
But just as there is non-sexual touch and sexual touch, there is surely non-sexual bawdy badinage and sexual badinage.
Which brings me to a sore point with me: I don’t believe that there is a difference between sexual and non-sexual touch between husband and wife. To me, it’s just different levels of sensuality. But that’s a matter for another post…..
I do think there is a difference between sexual touch and non-sexual touch, but I see them as different types of intimate touch. Touching my husband’s forehead to check for a fever is non-sexual. Touching him, um, somewhere else to check for *ahem* a different kind of fever is sexual. Both kinds of touch build the intimacy between us.
Definitely another post coming……..
I wonder how you and my husband would get along with each other. That would be interesting to see.
You’ve really read all of my posts? Now I’m going to get all emotional or something.
How ‘bout dem Bears, eh?
Aw, shucks. But shhh. We live in Wisconsin and are not allowed to like a particular team to the south of us.
Well, readers, that is a mild entrance into the discussion of Chris’s A Wife’s Heart. More to come