The other day we went for a great bike ride around a beautiful lake. My Wonderful Wife was laughing out loud with joy. It was late evening on a warm Summer day, there was a light breeze, a cover band was playing to 100s of picnickers, and we all reveled in a perfect Northwest August night!
When we got home, I made an offhand comment that put a damper on the whole evening. I meant it as a compliment – but it wasn’t received that way.
“women have better verbal skills than men”
Here’s some background:
My Wonderful Wife works hard as a full-time, stay-at-home, Mom. Like all of us, she needs some time off from work occasionally. So, sometimes when I offer to take the kids on an outing, she opts to stay home and chill – or sleep. As we were preparing to load up the bikes and head out to the park, it wouldn’t have surprised me on bit if she had chosen to stay home. I would have been fine with that. But it thrilled me when she chose to come with us! And it turned out to be the perfect family outing.
So, when we got home, I said: “I didn’t think you were going to go with us.”
Translation: “I’m so glad you came!”
What she heard: (Actually, I’m still not sure what she heard. I do know it made her angry and she felt hurt – but I have no idea why.)
“Can’t we all just get along?“
Lesson to learn: After much discussion, I learned that I do a really poor job at being verbal. I take shortcuts and try to finish talking as soon as I can. Making a statement is like a wearisome task to me. The sooner I make my point, and the sooner I finish talking, the sooner I can go back to living in that perfect world inside of my head.
I suppose I need to step up and learn to better tend to my words.
“A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: DUH. – O’Brien”
I think another reason men tend to take verbal shortcuts is because we use fewer words than women. I’ve heard it said that women use about 10,000 words a day – men are done around 3000. If I didn’t take verbal shortcuts, I’d never be able to talk about all the subjects in my head.
I’m reminded of the old story I heard in a relationship communication class a few decades ago. If you ask a man where he bought his new jeans, he’d tell you the store, location, and probably the price. It is merely information. If you ask a woman where she got her new jeans, she’d self-consciously look at herself, brush her hands over the jeans, hesitate, then ask, “Why? What’s wrong with them?”
In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”