One morning I was extra-busy in the doughnut shop; in addition to my own work I was helping train our newest employee, a girl in her upper teens. At one point a man stepped up to the counter and told her he wanted a dozen doughnuts.
She whispered to me, “How many is that?”
“Twelve,” I whispered back, resisting the urge to roll my eyes heavenward.
It was no real problem; a quick explanation put things to rights. It gets to be more of a problem when a difference in terms leads to suspicion and accusations:
One day my cousin called, quite upset. Her newest boyfriend had made the comment that they’d been going together for 18 months now. “That’s not true at all,” she said. “We’ve been going together for a year and a half. So why is he saying it’s only eighteen months? He’s lying to me!” She was ready to dump him for his dishonesty.
“Eighteen months is a year and a half,” I told her. This soothed her ruffled feathers and restored their relationship – for the moment at least.
I had to chuckle about it, but later got to wondering how many times phrasing issues like this have given rise to big arguments. I can think of times when I thought I understood what my spouse was saying and I strongly disagreed, but when the whole explanation came out I found we were really on the same side in the issue. We were just confusing each other by our choice of terminology.
Ladies, I know that most of us call twelve A DOZEN, too. (But you’ll have to admit it makes a good title. ☺) Nevertheless I try to keep this example on file for times when I can’t seem to grasp what someone is trying to say and tend to disagree with what I’m hearing. Don’t focus on individual words; find out what they mean. What’s in the back of their mind? Where are they coming from with this remark or argument?
When you first get married you think you’re totally on the same page; it takes twenty years to discover just how differently your minds are hard-wired. The way men and women process information and the conclusions we draw from what we hear are so different.
Generally speaking, women are very quick to pick up on nuances that fly right over a man’s head. Wives drop many broad hints into the well of NO AVAIL.” 🙂
As in the story about the two couples standing outside a church after the service one morning. Mrs. A says to Couple B, “Maybe you should join us for dinner.” Mrs. B protests that they must get home, but her husband overrides this and accepts Mrs. A’s invitation, ignoring his wife’s frown and Mr. A’s raised eyebrows.
However, when they step into Couple A’s house, they realize Mrs. A was in no way prepared for dinner company and she goes into a tizzy trying to get a meal together. The dinner may be hot but the atmosphere is cool.
Later, at home again, Mr. B is puzzled as to why they were invited when the hostess wasn’t prepared. “I could have told you that,” Mrs B explains. “It was the way she said it: she was being polite, but she didn’t expect us to take her up on it.”
Mr. B just shook his head. “Women!”
If someone tells a dad, “Your boy’s got a good set of lungs on him; I could hear him hollering half a block away,” the dad is likely to chuckle and say “Yeah. Takes after me (or his mother) I guess.” If he senses some criticism in the comment, he’ll likely shrug it off. If someone says that same thing to a woman, she’s apt to hear it as “You must be a rotten mother!” and be really hurt.
One day another wife and I had a discussion about why it seldom pays to tell your husband you’re feeling blue. Hubby’s mind automatically goes into “fix it” mode; he starts to analyze why you’re feeling blue, suggests things you’re doing wrong and things you should change to improve how you feel. By this time you’re ready to crawl in a closet and never come out, and hubby can’t understand why you’re still depressed when he’s given you so many positive directions on how to feel better.
If you tell a woman you feel blue, chances are she’ll say, “Yeah, I feel like that, too, sometimes. Don’t worry; the situation isn’t half as bad as it looks right now. It’ll pass.” And you go away feeling there’s hope.
Sometimes the difference between a man’s perspective and a woman’s gives us a real chuckle, too:
When we sold our home in Ontario, our realtor, Paul C, told us about another house he’d been asked to sell. He says he walked up to the living room window and looked in — there being no glass to interfere with his view.
The house had running water of a sort. There was a large hole cut in the kitchen floor; as he looked down he could see an open well about twelve feet below. The owner had hooked up an old washing machine motor and pipe beside the hole so they could pump water into the kitchen sink.
Paul mentioned a few other “unique” features that I forget now. He was delighted when someone actually came forward with an “as is” offer on the place. The day he took the paperwork over for the owner to sign, the sad fellow sat there for awhile after accepting the offer, then threw his arms out in despair and wailed, “I can’t figure it. All this luxury and she left me!”
Paul was all sympathy. “Yep. There’s no understanding women.”
I asked him, “And did a bee fly in the window right then and sting you?”
He laughed. “Well, maybe it should have.”
At that moment we understood each other perfectly.