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Big Man and I were watching a typical sit-com scene where the man asks his wife for permission to do an activity, she says “yes,” and later he gets in trouble for doing said activity. Big Man looked at me and said, “Well, he hasn’t been married long enough to know that when she says ‘yes’ she really means ‘we will talk about it later.’ See, when a guy says ‘yes’ he actually means it. Girls mean something different.”
Now, Big Man said this to me jokingly and we laughed about it, but it got me thinking. Is that really true? I know it is a common stereotype about men and women and marriage and it provides endless fodder for comedy sketches. Is it really so common that women say one thing and mean something completely different? And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it is quite common.
I am not saying all women do this. Nor am I saying that all men “say what they mean and mean what they say.” But I am saying that men and women communicate differently and misunderstanding is bound to happen. One of the parts of a healthy marriage is living in understanding with your spouse and I think that includes speaking truthfully and clearly. So I have been thinking about my own communication style and wondering how many times I have told Big Man one thing while meaning something entirely different. And sadly, I’ve come up with a lot of examples. If I am really honest with myself, I can even find examples where I was intentionally manipulative or less-than-honest in what I said. And that is definitely not OK.
I shouldn’t be making it difficult for Big Man to understand me. I shouldn’t be playing mind games and making him guess my true meaning. I should say what I mean. And mean what I say. It’s not really an optional thing. Jesus was pretty clear on “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” That doesn’t leave a lot of room for I’m fine when I am really not, or I don’t care which restaurant when I really do. It definitely doesn’t allow for Yes honey, go have fun and then the cold shoulder when he gets home. I’m trying to get better at saying what I mean. Speaking clearly and honestly and not engaging in half-truths or double meanings. I don’t want Big Man to feel wary every time I say something and wonder what it is I really mean. I don’t want to say one thing and mean another.
I know we will still have misunderstandings and times when we don’t communicate well. We’re both human and there are inherent differences in communication style. But if I do my best to let my yes be yes, that can only improve things.