Today’s Topic for Guys is: Communicating with Women.
If there’s one thing that women find unsatisfactory about guys—and I base this conclusion on an extensive scientific study of the pile of Cosmopolitan magazines where I get my hair cut—it is that guys do not communicate enough.
This problem has arisen in my own personal relationship with my wife, Beth. I’ll be reading the newspaper and the phone will ring; I’ll answer it, listen for 10 minutes, hang up, and resume reading. Finally Beth will say: “Who was that?” And I’ll say, “Phil Wonkerman’s mom.” Phil is an old friend we haven’t heard from in 17 years. And Beth will say, “Well?” And I’ll say, “Well what?” And Beth will say, “What did she SAY?”
And I’ll say, “She said Phil is fine,” making it clear by my tone of voice that, although I do not wish to be rude, I AM trying to read the newspaper here, and I happen to be right in the middle of an important panel of “Calvin and Hobbes.”
But Beth, ignoring this, will say, “That’s all she said?”
And she will not let up. She will continue to ask district attorney-style questions, forcing me to recount the conversation until she’s satisfied that she has the entire story, which is that Phil just got out of prison after serving a sentence for a murder he committed when he became a drug addict because of the guilt he felt when his wife died in a freak submarine accident . . . but now he’s all straightened out and has a good job as a trapeze artist . . . and just became happily engaged to marry a prominent member of New Kids on the Block, so in other words he is fine, which is EXACTLY what I told Beth in the first place, but is that enough? No. She wants to hear every single detail.
We have some good friends, Buzz and Libby, whom we see about twice a year. When we get together, Beth and Libby always wind up in a conversation, lasting several days, during which they discuss virtually every significant event that has occurred in their lives and the lives of those they care about, sharing their innermost feelings, analyzing and probing, inevitably coming to a deeper understanding of each other, and a strengthening of a cherished friendship. Whereas Buzz and I watch the playoffs.
This is not to say Buzz and I don’t share our feelings. Sometimes we get quite emotional. “That’s not a FOUL??” one of us will say.
Or: “YOU’RE TELLING ME THAT’S NOT A FOUL???”
I don’t mean to suggest that all we talk about is sports. We also discuss, openly and without shame, what kind of pizza we need to order. We have a fine time together, but we don’t have heavy conversations, and sometimes, after the visit is over, I’m surprised to learn—from Beth, who learned it from Libby—that there has recently been some new wrinkle in Buzz’s life, such as that he now has an artificial leg.
(For the record, Buzz does NOT have an artificial leg. At least he didn’t mention anything about it to me.)
I have another good friend, Gene, who’s going through major developments in his life. Our families recently spent a weekend together, during which Gene and I talked a lot and enjoyed each other’s company immensely. In that entire time, the most intimate personal statement he made to me is that he has reached level 24 of a video game called Arkanoid. He has even seen the Evil Presence, although he refused to tell me what it looks like. We’re very close, but there is a limit.
I know what some of you are saying. You’re saying my friends and I are Neanderthals, and a lot of guys are different. This is true. A lot of guys don’t use words at all. They communicate entirely by nonverbal methods, such as sharing bait.
But my point, guys, is that you must communicate on a deeper level with a woman, particularly if you are married to her. Open up. Don’t assume that she knows what you’re thinking. This will be difficult for guys at first, so it would help if you women would try to “read between the lines” in determining what the guy is trying to communicate: GUY STATEMENT: “Do we have any peanut butter?” INNER GUY MEANING: “I hate my job.” GUY STATEMENT: “Is this all we have? Crunchy?” INNER GUY MEANING: “I’m not sure I want to stay married.”
If both genders work together, you can have a happier, healthier relationship, but the responsibility rests with you guys, who must sincerely … Hey, guys, I’m TALKING to you here. Put down the sports section, OK? HEY! GUYS!