Sometimes, my opportunity to write about marriage leads to some very interesting discussions with my husband. When I first took on the assignment to write about what women say versus what men hear, my first stop was my writing partner (and partner in crime) — my husband, Darreck. I asked him what phrases wives commonly use that get misinterpreted. I really hoped he might say that our communication was so great there were rarely misunderstandings. Boy, was I wrong. I got an earful!
After hours worth of great discussion, some common themes emerged. Here are four phrases wives commonly use and how they lead to misunderstandings.
"Hey, would you take out the trash?"
What wife means: Take out the trash right now. I'm sick of looking at it, and I want it gone.
Husband hears: Hey, when it's convenient for you, would you take out the trash?
The takeaway: Our husbands are busy, and they get caught up in whatever they are doing the same way we do. If you want something done on a specific timeline, you either need to specify when it needs to be done or let hubby handle it when he's available. It's not fair to ask your husband to drop everything to do something you've stewed about for the past five minutes. He'll get around to it, usually without you having to nag.
"I'm not in the mood tonight."
What wife means: I'm exhausted and stressed out. My day has been crazy, and my mind is not in the proper place to enjoy intimacy. I don't feel sexy now, but I'm sure I will sometime in the future.
Husband hears: You are so repulsive I'd rather sleep than snuggle up to you. Our sex life is doomed from here to eternity.
The takeaway: Men love being physically intimate with their wives, whether that involves making love or simply snuggling up on the couch. It's one of the primary ways they send and receive love. When we reject them, they take it personally, even if that wasn't our intention. To clarify, reassure your husband that you still find him attractive and that you still want intimacy in the near future.
"Would you please help out more around the house?"
What wife means: I'm drowning here! The house is a disaster, and I can't keep up all by myself. Look around, see what needs to be done and pitch in.
Husband hears: Read my mind so I'll quit yelling at you!
The takeaway: Men don't always see their environments like their wives do. While you're busy noticing the piles of laundry and the sink full of dishes, his mind is elsewhere. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just different. Help him out by lovingly giving him specifics. If you need the rug vacuumed, ask for that. If you need him to play with the kids, politely ask him. Detailed communication is the key to avoiding hurt feelings.
What wife means: I want you to use your imagination, and surprise me with a magical evening.
Husband hears: Hey, I need an excuse to put you in the doghouse for a few weeks.
The takeaway: Men like romance, but their definition of romance and ours doesn't always align. He finds playing tennis together and going for a hike romantic, and you're expecting flowers and candlelit dinners. He's willing to give you what you want, but giving him suggestions will help ease everyone's frustrations. Also, as long as he's trying, be unfailingly gracious, even if things don't go perfectly. If you put him down, he won't want to try again in the future.
These four situations seem particularly universal, but don't take my word for it. Talk with your husband in a calm, non-accusatory way, and ask him where he feels you have a breakdown in communication. Every man and every relationship is different, so you'll surely have your own set of strengths and issues. Just remember that, the next time you feel like you can't talk with your husband, the problem is probably in how you're saying it.