Teri's day at the real estate office had been horrid. First her car wouldn't start, then two clients canceled, and the lockbox wouldn't yield at the house a third client had really wanted to see. When she got home, Teri looked at her husband and said, "Fred, I don't want advice, I want sympathy. An 'oh, poor dear' will go a long way right now."

Fred wrapped his arms around her and in his best Southern accent said, "Oh, my poor hard-workin' little darlin.' I'm sorry you had such a rotten day. Just let me rub your tired shoulders while you tell me all about your bad day."

It was just funny enough to make her smile, which in itself helped relieve the tension.

Both Teri and Fred handled the situation well--she expressed her exact frustration, and he didn't try to fix it. Instead, he listened to her venting and offered a hug and humor.

But such good communication often is the exception because men and women are so wonderfully different. Ever notice that most women love to describe an event with great detail, while men just want the bottom line? Here's an example: After you go to your favorite restaurant with a friend and your husband asks, "How was dinner?" he wants to hear, "We had a great time catching up on the family news."

Unless he asks more questions, that's all the information he wants. He does not want to hear, "It was wonderful. But when we got there we had to wait because the waitress dropped a tray of glasses, and they were trying to sweep them up. Finally we got a table, but remember how I always like to order grilled chicken with sprouts? Well, they were out of the sprouts, and then they had to substitute the sourdough bread instead of the whole wheat bread. You know, your mother promised she was going to give me her sourdough recipe, but she never did…."  Believe me, he doesn't want to hear it.

Watch children. The girls talk and play in relationship ways. They're directing: "No, do it this way." They're supporting: "That's right. Put them over here."

But boys usually relate to each other through activities. They play sports, they build something together, they watch games. I think of the endless football games my male relatives and their buddies watch together while I'm more interested in getting together with "the girls" and catching up on personal news.

We women need one another--not only to encourage each other but also to talk in detail. A husband cannot be all his wife needs. And she can't be all he needs, either. A good relationship means we enjoy spending time together, yes, but we also need to include other friendships.

One activity many enjoy in our area is couples' Bible studies. There they can concentrate on an activity while getting to know other couples on a deeper level. To the wives' delight, the men gradually learn they actually enjoy having other men with whom to discuss important family issues. And out of those discussions often comes the insight they aren't alone in learning how to deal with the creatures they'd married.

One such study led to a weekly men's breakfast at a local cafe. Each Wednesday, six husbands begin the 6:30 session with Scripture, and the week's leader asks individuals how the group can best pray for them. That makes it easy for the men to open up about what's going on in their lives. Then each person takes a turn answering several key questions: How was your week? How are you doing with God? With your wife? With your children? What temptations are you facing? How are you doing there? How was your thought life this week? Are you spending time in the Word and in prayer?

Many men are surprised they actually like talking about something other than football, hunting and business. One man even said he couldn't believe he'd never before talked with other men about the most important things in life.

Yes, men and women may have different communication styles. But hope abounds for all of us.                                                     

 

Adapted from Men Read Newspapers, Not Minds -- and other things I wish I'd known when I first married by Sandra P. Aldrich. (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Used by permission.) Author or co-author of 17 books, Sandra is an international speaker who handles serious issues with insight and humor. For information about her speaking availability or to order this book, contact her at BoldWords@aol.com.