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Category Archives: Marriage

Single At Night

We’ve been parenting together for 16+ years now, but when it is nighttime, I often feel like a single parent.

In the beginning, there was a very logical reason. I was nursing the babies. There wasn’t a lot my husband could do to help. Sure, I could have woken him up to change a diaper after I’d finished the feeding, but that just seemed mean. I was already up.

Once the nursing was no longer an issue, he reasoned that it still made more sense for me to get up. I could fall asleep so much faster than he could after the random midnight crises were tended to. I didn’t argue. I was too tired.

There were, of course, a few times that I insisted he be the one to respond to a child’s cries, only to have the child desperately want Mommy anyway.

He did get up that one night a mouse bit our daughter’s finger. Blood-curdling screams tend to jolt a person out of bed.

And there was another long, long night with multiple near-death experiences (as portrayed by our offspring). When there was yet another call from a far-off bedroom, I just couldn’t do it. I started crying. Eventually, my sobs compelled him to get up and see to the child’s needs. He returned  shortly thereafter…to ask me where we keep the clean bedsheets.

(Just one mom on the jury. That’s all I need…)

Our kids are mostly old enough now that nighttime emergencies are few and far between. But our youngest still has the occasional accident or night terror. Or itchy nose (for the love!). Recently, I was up with him four nights in a row (and more than once each night). By myself. Every night. I did not have lovely, tender thoughts towards anyone in those moments.

I recall being awakened the morning after the fourth night by some outside noise. A scratching, scraping noise, over and over again. It took several moments of fighting towards consciousness to identify the sound (and at the same time, trying desperately to stay asleep for just a few more minutes. I was So Blasted Tired!).  It was a shovel. My husband was shovelling the driveway.

Just then, the clock radio clicked on. Time to get up. I stayed where I was for a few minutes, realizing that he had been up for more than an hour already. Reading his Bible, bringing in a bin of firewood, getting the woodstove burning for the day, making my coffee, and shovelling our long driveway. All before my alarm went off.

I may be single at night, but praise God from whom all blessings flow, I am married in the morning!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 2, 2016 in Family, Marriage, parenting

 

How to Buy Gifts for Someone Whose Love Language is Gifts

Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas… You know you need to buy something “meaningful”, but…

desperate-man

What does “meaningful” mean???

The pressure is on. And it makes you wish for an alien invasion, the second coming, Armageddon and the zombie apocalypse all at once, just to get you off the hook.

Well, Muffin, I am here to help you out. Take a deep breath. You can do this. And it won’t be nearly as hard as you think.

When buying a gift for someone whose love language is Gifts, the gift needs to say one of three things:

  1. “You are worth listening to.”
  2. “You are worth thinking about.”
  3. “You are worth spending time/effort/money on.”

Pick one; it does not need to say all of those things together. (Although on those ultra-special occasions when you know it is absolutely imperative that you hit a home run, then yes, these are the three bases you need to hit.)

No need to panic, Pumpkin. I will explain further. Please note that I will use feminine pronouns because I’m speaking from my own perspective on this and I am a girl. But I’m pretty sure the same logic could be applied to guys, so don’t let the “she/her” vernacular confuse you.

  1. “You are worth listening to.”

Your loved one wants to know that you listen to her. She probably says very obvious things in everyday life that will help you know what kinds of things she loves and hates. If she says, “Sweet Chili Heat Doritos are my favourite junk food”, make a mental note of that (or a physical note. It shows you care.) Now you know that you can pick up a bag of Sweet Chili Heat Doritos and make her day anytime!  If you know you need more than that for a bigger occasion, then a compilation gift of several of her mentioned favourite things will score big points. (IE. A bag of Sweet Chili Heat Doritos, a pound of maple fudge, a bottle of Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling, and a pair of fuzzy socks.) These are easy-to-find, inexpensive gifts. You don’t need to overthink it. Just pay attention when she talks.

Caveat: don’t pay half-attention. If she says how much she hates wasabi and all you hear is “blah blah blah wasabi” and then buy her wasabi everything…You have to know that this is just about the most hurtful thing you can do to a Gifts Love Language Person.

  1. “You are worth thinking about.”

Gas station gifts that you grab on the way home from work on December 24 send the message that you weren’t thinking about her at all. And THAT sends the message that you don’t love her, not even a tiny little bit. That will not make for a merry Christmas. You can pick up something completely dorky and inexpensive and if you tell her you bought it in October because it reminded you of her and you’ve been looking forward to giving it to her all this time, that says you think about her.

Ordering something online in the wee hours of Christmas Day and wrapping up the order confirmation will make her think you hate her. Telling her on December 2 not to open any of your emails that say “order confirmation” will prove to her that you were thinking ahead. And thinking of her means you love her.

Bonus information: In one brief shopping trip, you can buy an assortment of inexpensive token gifts and keep them hidden somewhere so that on any given day through the year, you can just hand her something and say, “I was thinking of you” and she will melt like coconut oil.

  1. “You are worth spending time/effort/money on.”

This is probably the one that is the most daunting for gift-buyers, especially if you assume that spending more means more. Relax, Cream Puff. That is a myth that I can dispel for you right here, right now.

Your goal here is to take resources that you have and show her that she is worth spending those resources on her. If you have some spare time and you choose to spend that time working on a gift for her instead of doing something you want to do, that sacrifice of time says she is worth more than your hobbies or bros. And her expressed gratitude will likely outweigh the joy gleaned from hobbies and bros anyway.

If you have a special skill set or craft that you use for everyone else’s benefit, and she expresses interest in that particular thing, but then you’re tired/bored/annoyed after expending all that effort for other people and so you don’t really want to do more of the same for her…that tells her that she is the least important person you know. Do not expect special expressions of gratitude. Duck and run, my friend.

If your general MO is to save/budget/skimp/reduce/do without, and you actually do have financial resources to spare, then the occasional extravagant gift is a good thing. Hopefully, if this relationship is of a marital nature, then you’re on the same page with the whole saving/spending thing – so frequent overspending will cause stress and turmoil. But once in a while, you would do well to knock her socks off. Just make sure it’s something she actually wants (Back to that whole listening thing. An Alaskan trekking adventure for someone who hates being cold and wishes all snow would die…bad idea.).

In conclusion, dear reader, how you present your gift can make a world of difference in how it is received. If you can show that you were thinking of her and that you were listening to her, it really doesn’t matter how much you spend. At all costs – put duct tape over your mouth if you have to – resist the urge to make excuses for a crappy, after-thought gift. Laughing off your forgetfulness says, “Not only did I forget to buy you something because I hate you, but I think it’s hilarious how much I hate you. Come on, that’s funny, right?”

Post-script: I have one more point to make. There is a right way and a wrong way to do a gift that’s something you share.

Right way: A glass of wine for her while you make dinner for both of you.

Wrong way: “Hey, this thing I got you was in the super-reduced clear-out bin so it only cost me a buck. And with the money I saved on your present, I went out for lunch. Win-win, right?”

Merry Christmas everyone!

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Family, Humour, Marriage

 

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Boys are…Different

I would like to go 7 years back in time to when we were in the middle of the adoption process and change my answer to the question, “Would you like a baby boy or girl?”

Not because our now 7-year-old boy isn’t delightful. But because all the other 7-year-old boys are not delightful.

Really, really not delightful.

We love our delightful 7-year-old boy, so we decided to throw him a birthday party with a bunch of other 7-year-old boys. And they are not delightful. Really, really not delightful.

I booked the party at the movie theatre. We did that last year, and it was an easy party. It’s not terribly expensive (compared to most other party options out there), they can accommodate a group as small as 8 (unlike most other party options out there), and we were really excited about “Big Hero 6”.

We arrived at the theatre half an hour before the movie (as per the manager’s instructions) to allow us lots of time to get our cake and presents and any decorations set up in the party room. Unfortunately, they’d double-booked the party room, so it wasn’t available for us until after the movie. They did provide a space for us to lock up our presents, cake and coats. But the boys…the boys were not contained.

The screaming, running, break-dancing little monsters were everywhere. In the foyer, in the arcade, in the bathroom and running out into the mall. I could not keep track of them. And there were only 8 of them!

I didn’t even know all the kids or remember their faces after their parents dropped them off. Imagine a crazy lady snatching kids as they came out of a public bathroom, asking, “Are you supposed to be with me?” Yeah, that was me. Classy, eh?

After much chasing and herding and gnashing of teeth, we managed to get everyone to make a trip to the bathroom (“Are you SURE you’ve gone? You can make it through a two-hour movie now?”) and sorted out their drink and popcorn orders (“I don’t like popcorn.” “That’s too bad.”). Finally, the dreaded half hour of free reign was over and we were in our seats.

All I can say is, “I’m sorry” to everyone who was sitting behind or in front of us. There was talking and spilling and crying and many trips to the bathroom.

After one trip to the bathroom, I returned to my seat and whispered to the kid next to me, “What happened?”, thinking he might fill me in on any pertinent plot details. “I don’t know,” he non-whispered back. Okay, fine, I can figure this out. Oh. An important character died. Really? That wasn’t an obvious, helpful little tidbit that you could’ve shared? Thanks, kid.

And the crying. “I dropped one of my Pokemon cards and I can’t find it!” “We can look after the movie is over and the lights come on.” Crying continued for 45 minutes until the movie was over and the lights came on. “Oh look, here it is. Maybe you should put them in your pocket until the party is over so none of them get lost again.” “I don’t have a pocket.” I am going to throat-punch your parents.

So the movie is over, we get to go to the party room now, right? Wrong. The other party is still in there and then the room will need to be cleaned up. But we got some free arcade tokens to use in the meantime.

Again with the screaming, running, break-dancing monsters. Except now they’ve had Coke and M&M’s and they have basketballs to throw and game tokens to lose. “Can I have one more? I lost one behind that game.” How did your token get behind that game?!?!

Finally. The party room. That blessed little space where they can be as loud as they want and I can just block the door and keep them there.

That blessed little space where drinks are spilled and kids try to play tag and icing is smeared all over faces. “Look at my blue boogers!” “I got icing in my hair!”

And then I hear, “What the *#$%&@!?” from one of the not-delightful monsters. I look over, and one of the other not-delightful monsters is opening a present. A present that was meant for my child! I got in that kid’s face, with my finger pointing right at his nose. “This is NOT YOUR party and that is NOT YOUR present. So hands off! Sit down! And maybe try being NICE to the people around you.”

Don’t judge me.

Do you know what little girls do when they have a birthday party? They dress up in princess costumes so you can take them for high tea at a real castle. And they walk in a line to see all the fancy, old furniture. And they use their napkins after they nibble on fancy cookies. And they stand and smile for a group photo.

This is what boys do for a group photo

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5 Comments

Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Family, Humour, Marriage, parenting

 

They’ll Know We Are Christians By How Much We Love to Hate

Church: simmer down now. This World Vision fiasco is out of control.

I’m going to keep this short. My take on the subject is simple. We cannot keep going like this.

People – people who claim to be Christ-followers themselves – are uttering actual sentences like, “There is no such thing as a gay Christ-follower.” What? What?!?! What Gospel supports that? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to rescue us. While we were yet sinners, He died for us. How dare we point a finger at someone whom we deem more sinful than us and say that they are not worthy of claiming Jesus’ offer of salvation?

The world is watching and listening and reading, and when they hear such hateful, hypocritical crap, they are laughing – at best. At worst, they are swearing to never have anything to do with this religion for the rest of their lives.

This is a defining issue of our generation. Not because the LGBT community is more prominent than it has been throughout every preceding generation, but because today’s technology facilitates swift, violent, and public (although often anonymous) attacks on the LGBT community. We cannot keep going like this.

What would Jesus do if He was here in the flesh today? Matthew 26:52-53 springs to mind. How did Jesus respond when Peter cut off the arresting officer’s ear? He didn’t say, “Phew! Thanks, Peter. It’s a good thing you were here to stick up for me otherwise I totally would’ve been screwed.” No! He reprimanded Peter for his violent, hateful reaction. “Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting. Don’t you know that I could ask my Father, and right away he would send me more than twelve armies of angels?” And then He heals the officer’s ear!

Do you get the contrast there? Peter is one of Jesus’ closest followers. He’s been by Jesus’ side all through His years of ministry. He’s clung to Jesus’ teaching and professed his devotion and love. And yet, when Peter responds with violence towards someone whom he perceives as a threat to Jesus’ authority, Jesus shuts him down. Jesus (with all authority on heaven and earth) doesn’t need Peter to jump in and save the day. Instead, Jesus turns and heals the guy who is about to lead Him off to His death.

Let’s back up one chapter to Matthew 25. Here Jesus gives a very clear defining standard for who will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Verse 24 says, “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.’” If Jesus was speaking these words today, He might add, “When I was gay, you were my friend.”

Sweet merciful heavens, I am not suggesting that Jesus was gay. I am proclaiming that He is heartbroken over how we treat marginalized people and we will be held accountable for it. He says as much a couple of verses later. The way we treat “the least of these”, is the same as treating Jesus Himself like that.

One of today’s “least of these” is the LGBT community. Not because of their sexual orientation, but because of how we have vilified them. We, the church, have made them the least. Shame on us.

I am not offering an opinion on World Vision’s decision. The circular arguments make my head hurt. I can’t imagine how overwhelming and crushing it is for those who are closely connected to WV and are now navigating through the hurricane of those discussions. This is where I stand: regardless of our personal opinion of how someone else’s sin stacks up against our own, we are not proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we continue to spew hateful, hypocritical condemnation.

Jesus’ authority is not threatened by World Vision’s policy change. So put your sword away.

I’m not going to leave this post open for comments (if I can figure out the technology of such restrictions). Not because I’m afraid of continuing the discussion, but simply because I refuse to be party to the backlash and fallout that is erupting on every single article and post that has addressed this issue over the past couple of days. We can’t keep going like this.

 
 

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You Had Me at “Hello, My Name is Inigo Montoya”

Today is a very special day. It is the 18th anniversary of the day I bought my wedding dress. Yesterday was also a very special day. It was the 18th anniversary of the day you asked me to marry you. I meant to write this yesterday, but you were away and I was schlepping kids to soccer and birthday parties, and – you know – life. But maybe today’s a better day to write this anyway.

Yesterday’s anniversary calls to mind the romance and the dreams and the idealistic expectations of marriage and love. Today’s anniversary reminds me of more practical things. I bought that dress straight off the sale rack and checked it off the to-do list. Sure, there were all kinds of dreams and expectations of a romantic wedding surrounding my dress, but I wasn’t obsessed with finding the “perfect dress” or having the “perfect wedding”. The dress wasn’t going to make or break our wedding, much less our marriage. I wanted an adequate dress for an affordable price. Done.

That practicality is a better picture of us. We are on the same page about so many things. Very early on in our relationship, we discovered our mutual appreciation for “The Princess Bride”. (Mind you, if that was the only criteria for a successful relationship, we could have married just about anyone on the planet. But still, it was a fun starting point.) As our relationship deepened, we grew to appreciate new depths of humour and sarcasm. Oh, it is fun to laugh with you!

Practicality extends to how you express your love. You married a big, strong, tough girl – there’s not much dainty femininity about me! I like being capable, and I am pleased to have your trust in my capability. But I love that you still find ways to take care of me. When you carry in firewood for me, or shovel the driveway or mow the lawn, it’s not because we’re sexist and those are the “manly” jobs. It’s because you take some of the heavier jobs simply to be kind and loving towards me. If there ever comes a day when I am incapacitated due to illness or injury, you have already established that you’re taking care of me out of love, not obligation. Sexist or not, that makes me feel very feminine!

Not everything is about the heavy lifting, though. Do you remember when we were working at camp and during staff training we had to go on a group trust walk? Most of us were blindfolded and tied together in a line and we had to walk around the camp, through the woods and everything. You knew me well enough already to know that I was completely terrified. And you, as one of the guides, didn’t stray far from my side. You weren’t allowed to talk to us, but every couple of minutes, you touched my arm so I would know you were right there.

And through these 18 years, you have stayed by my side. We have walked through some pretty dark woods – sometimes with both of us blind at the same time – but your steady presence keeps me sane. Your perseverance is love. Your reassurance is love. Your gentle guidance is love.

I love your practical faith, too. You love God and you want to do what’s right. It’s not complicated. It’s not always easy to live out, but the bottom line is simple. And I find that really attractive.

18 years ago from yesterday, we were dreaming big and laughing at all the old fogies and their stories of “being more in love now than the day they got married”. Obviously they weren’t as in love on their wedding day as we were! (And they probably weren’t, but it’s nice that they’ve made progress since then.) We were so young and naïve. But 18 years ago today exemplifies the simple, practical way we’ve lived out our marriage, and because of that outlook, we’ve enjoyed a relatively drama-free relationship. That has given us the space to dream new dreams and it has also kept us grounded through really tough stuff.

I guess I don’t have anything super profound to say. I just wanted to mark this weekend for what it means to me (in the midst of all the fake fluff of Valentine’s Day). I like what we’ve got going on. You and me against the world, baby. Bring on the next 18 years. They’re going to be fantastic!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Marriage

 

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Lurkers and Intruders: What Men Need to Know about their Wives and Sex ~ Part Two

I do not want to write this post – as evidenced by my couple weeks of radio silence (except for that unfortunate accidental sales pitch the other day). I knew I wasn’t going to want to write it, so I used a Jedi mind trick on myself (except without the Jedi part) by calling my earlier post “Part One”. I am infinitely grateful that I wasn’t stupid enough to call it “Part One of Three”.

I’m committed to finishing this. But instead of being all mature and classy, I’m going to run in the opposite direction and take the awkwardness to a level previously unknown to mankind. (Oh wait. Rob Ford holds all rights to that. I’ll have to dial it back a bit.)  I will do this via innuendo, double entendre, and song lyrics.

Let us proceed.

(That, gentlemen, is not a great sentence to get things started in the bedroom.)

(Neither is “I’m committed to finishing this.” The intention may be admirable, but you could step up the romance.)

Okay, we previously discussed The Lurkers. They are like flies buzzing around the periphery. They’re annoying, but half the battle in dealing with them is simply understanding how your wife’s brain works. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed some mind-blowing…discussions…about this in the last couple of weeks.

Today we’re going to address The Intruders. Unlike The Lurkers, The Intruders really get in the way. Look, I have another picture for you. (Don’t worry. This is as visually graphic as it’s going to get around here.)

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If your wife can’t get no satisfaction, (and I’m assuming you would like to have a hand in correcting that situation), you may have one or more Intruders to deal with. Either one of you may have brought these Intruders along for the ride, but you’re going to have to tackle them together. It takes two to make a thing go right. Or it might take three. These Intruders are monsters, and you may need reinforcements as you engage them in battle. I am here to encourage you in that direction, but I myself am not a counselor or therapist, nor a pastor, nor any kind of expert by any stretch of the imagination.  If your Intruders are bigger than you can cope with on your own, please find someone who can help you. It is so worth the embarrassment and expense of getting the Intruders out of the way. (So-oh-oh! worth it.)

Let’s kick things off with Intruder #1. Sexual sin. That sounds like a fun place to start, doesn’t it? This includes anything from previous sexual relationships, extra-marital relationships, porn and even lust. I can’t even scratch the surface of the damage done by sexual sin. The Bible tells us that sexual sin is more damaging to us than any other kind of sin. It eats away at our soul. Men, that might sound a bit extreme to you. Your ability to compartmentalize and segregate makes it a lot easier for you to label pornography as your own thing that has nothing to do with your wife or your marriage. Please believe me when I say this: porn is deeply, deeply hurtful to your wife. It is intimately invasive. It makes her feel unloved, inadequate, judged, exposed (in a sickening way), and cheated on. You may feel like your lustful glance at that centrefold is light-years removed from your emotional attachment to your cherished wife, but your cherished wife feels completely crushed that you have invited that centrefold right into the middle of your sex life.

Please don’t argue with me about your intentions or try to explain the magnitude of temptation out there. That’s not my point. If you love your wife, if you want to be intentional about cherishing her, if you are vehemently opposed to deliberately hurting her, you need to run – RUN! – from anything porn-related.

And if either of you has baggage from another relationship (or your relationship with each other before you got married) that has damaged your intimacy in some way, deal with it! I don’t mean suck it up and move on. I mean sit down and lay it out and get Christian counsel and have the tough conversations including repentance and forgiveness. You have to force yourself through the trudging and painful process of healing. Together. It takes two, baby.

Intruder #2 is sexual abuse. Statistically speaking, the odds are pretty high that your wife has had some sort of unwanted sexual attention at some point in her life. The natural inclination of your compartmentalizing man-brain is probably to assume that it’s over, it’s dealt with, it’s no longer a factor. And you are probably wrong. It may be over; it may even be dealt with to an extent. But it is always going to be a factor and therefore, it may need to be dealt with repeatedly. That damage has left a scar, and that scar has created an Intruder that will pop up unpredictably. There are probably words or suggestions or positions that trigger that Intruder to hop into bed with you. Talk about those triggers. You might have to completely avoid some of them. OR there’s a possibility that you could reclaim them from the Dark Side. Again, if you work TOGETHER through the healing process, you might be able to instill new (happy and pleasant) associations into those former triggers.

Ugh, I’m already over 800 words. This is not going as quickly as I’d hoped. (Another sentence to avoid in the bedroom.) Let’s wrap this up so I can go get some lunch. (There’s another one. Okay, I’m finished now.) (Oops, I did it again.)

Intruder #3.  Illness, injury or other physical limitations. There may be something purely physical that is preventing your wife from gaining the summit. Talk to a doctor. Get some medication. Get some lube (or just some coconut oil if you’re afraid to run into someone you know in that section of the grocery  store). It could be a simple fix or it could be more complicated. But the bottom line is this: if your pleasure causes her pain, shame on you. You need to love your wife sacrificially and take her pain (or even her intruding discomfort) as your own. Tackle it together. Slowly (There’s a key word if ever there was one!).  But don’t be dismissive about it and don’t let her be an embarrassed martyr about it.

There. I’ve said too much and not nearly enough. This is just a conversation starter. But the conversation is not meant to be between you and me. It’s for you and your spouse. Please take my rambling tidbits of personal opinion and random information and talk amongst yourselves. Ready, set, go! (You can use that sentence if you don’t mind getting slapped.  I don’t want to know about it.)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Marriage

 

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Marital Miscommunication (before I get to “Part Two”)

I am completely fascinated by the differences between how men think and how women think. When I discuss my thoughts with other women, they usually understand exactly what I mean and make me feel like my thought process is universal. Likewise, when men talk, they are expressing man-processed thoughts to other thought-processing men, and they all get each other.

But oh, the vast difference between what is expressed and what is received in a cross-gender conversation!

When a woman expresses her thoughts to a man, and the man hears her words through the filter of his man-thought-processor, he doesn’t hear the same thing that she just said. And vice versa.

When I posted Part One a few days ago, a whole lot of women chimed in, saying, “Yes. This. Exactly!” I think a whole lot of men were shaking their heads, saying, “Huh?” And this is what everyday conversation in marriage looks like! She thinks she’s stating something so clearly and he’s hearing something completely different. And vice versa.

My earlier blog post could easily be read differently because of our different man/woman thought-processors. She reads it and understands the need to include thoughts of her husband amidst all The Lurkers. He reads it and sees The Lurkers as dragons that need to be slain before his wife can focus on him. All of my female readers were in enthusiastic agreement with what I’d written. But it’s possible that a lot of men were represented in the comment posted by one male reader who accused me of being a man-hater and wondered where I got my information from. Oy! Even when I, as a woman, try to explain to men how women think, men still receive that through a different processor!

So let’s flesh this out a bit. Not because I have all the answers, but because…well…this quote sums it up nicely (thank you, Janna!):

I’ve finally come to understand that I don’t write
because I know what I’m talking about.
I write precisely because I don’t know what I’m talking about.
I write to understand.
I write to unriddle my heart.

~ Mike Donehey

Let me share with you a few examples of mixed-processor communication. The first comes from my earlier post about expressing respect for my husband. I would literally say to Pat, “I disagree with you, and I don’t think we’re going to completely agree on this, so I’m willing to let you have the final word and I will go with whatever you decide.” And I thought I had achieved something fantastic by being able to say that honestly and with heartfelt joy and trust in his ability to make a wise decision that would be best for our family. But regardless of my intentions, and even regardless of my calm and loving tone, he would hear, “Fine then! Just do whatever you want, but let it be known now and forevermore that I think you’re wrong!” No wonder it took us so long to agree on how to disagree!

Here’s another example that came up as we’ve been discovering how deep and wide our miscommunication is. One day I told Pat that I was cold. And he told me that I shouldn’t be cold because (turning to look at the thermostat) our house is 72 degrees. Now, I’m absolutely sure that my female readers all think he’s a jerk for trying to dictate to me what I should and should not feel. And my male readers are agreeing that of course we shouldn’t have to turn up the heat when it’s already 72 degrees!

So let’s back up here for a moment. When I said I was cold, what I meant by that was that I was cold. It was just a comment on what I was feeling right then and there. I wasn’t asking him to change the thermostat. I wasn’t asking him to do anything! But what his man-thought-processor interpreted to him was that he needed to respond with action to fix the situation. And since he didn’t think the response to the perceived request was necessary, he answered in a way that my woman-thought-processor interpreted as a rebuke for feeling cold.

Because we’re intentionally focused on exploring these misperceptions and assumptions right now, we were able to talk through this situation reasonably. But such a simple exchange could have exploded into a nasty argument – and this probably happens all the time in so many marriages.

Here’s one more example that comes from a couple who both read my previous blog post and did exactly what I’d hoped my readers would do: they talked about it together. Their conversation started via email during the day, and continued face-to-face later that night. They sent me part of their email exchange (and they have since given me permission to share some of it with you).

It all started with the wife shopping online for a new winter jacket (Perhaps women’s low body temperatures is a foundational commonality that should be further explored). She found one that she liked and sent the link to her husband. Her intention was to include him in this minor task, possibly to get his input, but more so to simply involve him in something that was going on in her mind that day. His man-thought-processor interpreted to him that this was a task he needed to accomplish and get out of the way – a dragon to be slain – in order to gain access to her. That text was sent as an invitation to be involved in her life, but it was received as an obstacle that needed to be overcome in order to be involved in her life.

This excerpt from the husband’s email testifies that they’re working together towards a deeper, mutual understanding:

  • When you text me a picture of a jacket, you are saying to me “here is something that is on my mind and I want you to be a part of my life,” but I have a tendency to hear, “You can be part of my life once you solve this problem for me.”  So, you can imagine that if I think like that, and there is an endless stream of problems, it doesn’t give much hope that I will ever be included in your thoughts.  What Anita said gives a man hope that he can be included in his wife’s thoughts without solving every problem on her mind.

Yes! Now we’re getting somewhere! These are the conversations we all need to have with our spouses. Not just in regards to sex, which is how this conversation started (although that’s one area that can certainly benefit from clearing up some of the misperceptions), but apparently in regards to everything we talk about. Who knew?

Now this post has turned into a complete sidebar and I haven’t even gotten to Part Two yet! Like I said, this is all quite fascinating to me, and I guess I just wanted to talk it through with you. But more importantly, I hope it will prompt you to talk more intentionally with your spouse. Don’t just say what you’re thinking and assume that that’s what they’ll hear.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Marriage

 

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