My Story

The chronicle of the journey from infertility, to miscarriage, to finally raising twin girls born in June 2012.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Communication between the sexes

I'm seeing a lot of the same question come up over and over again.  In magazines, on support boards, just everywhere. 

How do I talk to my husband?  How is he over it already?  Why doesn't he GET IT?

I think the problem is that men and women are simply hardwired to think differently.  Here's how I see it.  And this isn't a judgment on which thought process is better, just an illustration of two different approaches.

Men think linear.  Women think circular.  Men are very focused.  Women are very vague.

I think what men don't understand is just how much translating we women do every single moment of our lives.  The world is designed to think linear.  It's how business is run, it's what we have the language for, and there's a logical progression.  It's very easy to justify a logical progression whereas vague and cloudy are frowned upon.  So every moment of every day, we ladies are constantly trying to take our vague circle and pound it out into a straight line before we open our mouths.

It's exhausting!!!

Men don't do this constant translating.  Why should they?  The world is designed to follow their thought patterns.  It's not that they don't want to put in the effort, it simply never occurs to them to do so.  And with no external cues saying that they should, well, it's no wonder that they just don't.  Just like how in Canada, a large portion of the population is fluent in both English and French, we Americans only speak English and it just doesn't occur to most of us to learn another language. 

Ladies, that is how men look upon our thinking patterns.  We're Canadian, we see and speak both languages everywhere we go.  They are only presented with one language, so it's the only one they speak.  We are fluent in both languages and don't give it a second thought.  They are not, and also don't give it a second thought.

Once both sides of the equation understand this, we can start to break it down and communicate with each other.

Men, some advice on how to help your woman through a rough time.  She's tired.  She can't translate for you.  She needs some of that vague, jump everywhere, circle around kind of conversation.  I know you don't see the benefit of this.  But even though we can't explain what it is, we do benefit from this style of communication.  This is what makes us feel closer to you when we've talked for three hours yet have still reached no conclusions.  Why we talk in circles and want you go on that conversation journey with us.

I realize this is foreign territory for you.  And I realize that in your mind, it's just opening up wounds and accessing a hurt that doesn't do anyone any good.  And with no logical conclusion, no solution to be reached, you don't see the point in doing it.  You probably won't get the same thing out of it that your woman is getting, it will probably be a sacrifice that will hurt you as you revisit sources of pain over and over again.

But if you want to support your woman through a hard time, this is what you have to do.  This is how you "be there" for her.  You listen to her ramblings.  You PARTICIPATE in the ramblings.  Don't know what to say?  Just narrate any thought that pops into your head.  It will be odd at first.  To go from thinking about what you saw in that hospital room, to how sad it made you, to you want a sammitch, and back to what it was like in that hospital again.  But do it.  She needs you to join her because she's already doing that.  And it's very lonely.

Look at that illustration again.  This is why we NEVER forget for a moment what's happened and why we are still dealing with it when you consider it done and gone.  Why we can be sitting on the couch, everything is fine, and then for no reason we get all upset again.  You are on topic yellow, red, blue, or green.  We are seeing every topic, all the time.  We can't turn off one thought and move on to another.  That's simply not how we're wired. 

Over time, as we gain more topics to think about, more colors get swirled.  The older colors might not circle back around as often, but they are still there and will likely circle back at some point and become the focus of another moment. 

That's enough of a lesson for today.  But I will leave you with one question that I just still can't figure out that answer to.

When I ask my husband "What are you thinking?" and he replies "Nothing."  Well, over the years I've come to trust that he's telling me the truth.  He's thinking absolutely nothing.  (the white spaces in the illustration)

So, men, HOW THE FUCK DO YOU DO THAT???  Somebody please teach me this magic!

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure if what you say applies to all women or just all women that think the same way as you, but I can explain how men like your husband "think of nothing".

    In reality he's always thinking, we all are. Only most of those thoughts are stupid (the grass is greener than yesterday, that's a small dog, etc). His strategy to thinking is to put a threshold on what is important or not. If a thought passes that threshold, it suddenly appears into his conscious mind. The reason behind this strategy is something like "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything".

    To some people, some thoughts might be louder than others (which is called judgement) while to others like me everything is the same sound level.


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