7.06.2008

Holy communication

Ask any marriage counselor the secret to a happy union and the answer will be "communication."

To keep relationships healthy and lively, couples simply must communicate their needs and desires. Unfortunately, many people (that is to say, "guys") aren't that good at um, you know, communicating.

The main obstacle to communication is the way the two genders think. Women can entertain many thoughts and feelings simultaneously, while men tend to be linear thinkers, considering one item at a time.

If a man asks a woman, "What are you thinking?" (it could happen!), she may answer with a convoluted string of connections and relationships, totally losing the man, who probably isn't listening anyway. When a woman asks the same of a man, truthful replies tend to consist of one word: "Beer" or "trucks" or "football." If the man is a deep thinker, the answer may be as complicated as "the infield fly rule." But the answer is unlikely to center on feelings or a thorough diagnosis of the relationship.

This puts men at a disadvantage. When a woman inquires about a man's thoughts, she doesn't want to hear "beer." She wants something meaningful. Put on the spot, the man scrambles around, trying to come up with a sensitive, diplomatic answer, and usually says exactly the wrong thing. Sometimes, he's so caught up in his linear thinking (see "football" above), he doesn't realize he's made a mistake until a saucepan bounces off his head.

What follows is a quick quiz to help men who are faced with traditional relationship situations. The quiz is for guys, but there's a note for women at the end.

Question: Your wife says, "Are you happy?" What do you say?

A. "I'm always happy when I'm with you."
B. "I'd be happier if my team made the playoffs."
C. "I'd be happier if you didn't stand in front of the TV."
D. "Compared to what?"

Q: Your wife says, "You're awfully quiet tonight. Is something wrong?" How do you answer?

A. "Not at all. I was just thinking about how happy you make me."
B. "I can't find the remote."
C. "We're out of beer."
D. "Gas pains."

Q. Your wife bursts into tears for no apparent reason. How do you respond?

A. "Aw, honey, what's wrong? How can I help?"
B. "Now what?"
C. "Got something in your eye?"
D. "Where did you hide the remote?"

Q. At a restaurant, she asks, "Do you think that waitress is attractive?"

A. "What waitress?"
B. "That skinny thing? Nah, I like a woman with some meat on her bones."
C. "Hubba-hubba."
D. "I wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers."

Q. Your wife trots out that old favorite: "Does this dress make my butt look big?" How do you answer?

A. "You look beautiful."
B. "I like a woman with some meat on her bones."
C. "No bigger than usual."
D. "No, your butt makes that dress look big."

Q. When your wife reveals her innermost thoughts, you're thinking about:

A. The right thing to say to show you care.
B. Baseball.
C. Fishing.
D. An attractive waitress.

Scoring: The correct answers are labeled "A." If you picked anything else, you might as well start packing. And call a good lawyer.

(Note to women: It's probably clear by now, but you're better off if you never surprise your man with any of the above situations. For example, if you want a serious discussion of the relationship, sit him down, make sure you have his undivided attention and say: "We're going to discuss our relationship now." Give him a few minutes to align his linear thinking before you begin. Also, you might want to hide the remote first.)

1 comment:

Bruce said...

Steve,
A great piece. Whever I need to chuckle I'll read this column.

Thanks for the laugh.