Phrases in Marriage Decoded
I’ve always taken some level of pride in my capacity in reading people. Now, I’m by no means Sherlock Holmes, but I’ve been half-decent at it. Call it intuition or a sixth sense if you will. Coupled with my ability to have at least a basic understanding of English, one would assume it’s been a great help navigating most social circumstances. But something strange happened when I got married & if I were a betting man, I’d wager that the language most of us men have understood most of our life has taken on a different and often confusing meaning.
Suddenly a misused word or phrase can have horrible consequences and the next thing you know you’re getting the silent treatment, the death glare or even the “so you’re saying I’m fat” retort or something similar. Let’s not even get started with the threat of having to spend the night on the couch. (Married-men Life Hack - help with home deco & furniture shopping. Buy the most comfortable couch you can find. The threat of a night on the couch becomes non-existent real quick. And in the misfortune of it occurring, you still get an amazing night’s sleep. Keep following me for more hacks.) More often than not, your new sleeping arrangements were caused by a few simple verbal misunderstandings. So, let’s unlock the language of marriage and translate it into something that all you guys can easily understand.
Beware the pronoun and its ability to cause problems in even the best of marriages. Typically, pronoun problems involve the incorrect use of the word “we” instead of the word “you”. So be sure to use the right pronoun. Your marriage might just depend on it.
What she says: We really need to clean the garage.
What she means: You really need to clean the garage.
What men hear: At some point, one of us should really clean the garage.
The Question That Isn’t
This often appears to be an actual question which is usually the cause of the confusion. Upon closer inspection, however, the question being asked is more of a suggestion. You can identify these non-questions as they usually start with the phrase “Do you think…”, which of course most of us haven’t. If we’d have taken the time to think about it, we’d probably already be doing what our wife was “asking” about in the first place, duh?!
What she says: Do you think you’ll be warm enough outside with just a t-shirt?
What she means: That’s an ugly t-shirt. I’ve never liked it and I wish you’d burn it.
What men hear: Maybe you should put on something warmer like a coat or sweater.
The Observation is the flip side of The Question That Isn’t but with similar and devastating effects. The Observation is meant to be a question but, instead, is usually understood to be a dull way to start a conversation.
What she says: The grass is getting pretty tall.
What she means: You need to mow the grass before we lose our child in that jungle.
What men hear: The grass is pretty tall.
The Call for Help
Whether it’s a call to a plumber to connect the new dishwasher or to a wildlife rescue service to get a spider out of the closet, men view the Call For Help as a judgement on their handiness and overall masculinity. Often however it’s just a call to take care of an unpleasant task and not necessarily an unspoken statement about your ability to… erm… perform.
What she says: I’m calling someone to fix the gate lock.
What she means: I’m calling someone to fix the gate lock.
What men hear: You’re incompetent and I’m leaving you for the locksmith.
In case you missed the heading of this section THIS IS A TRAP. There is no correct answer to The Trap because it requires some thoughtful consideration. Best to strap on a parachute and jump out of the nearest exit.
What she says: How does this look?
What she means: Let me know how this outfit really looks and don’t just say “you look great.”
What men hear: Tell me I look great in this outfit.
The I’m “Not” Fine
“I’m fine” is typically used to answer a question about how a person is doing but requires some very careful attention. Should it be followed with more words to indicate how really “fine” the person is/was or simply dropped like a beat, Porter Robinson - Language at 1:01 comes to mind, in response to the question? If it’s just the two words followed by a cold and complete silence, then trouble is what you’re in for.
What she says: I’m fine.
What she means: I’m super pissed-off because you forgot our anniversary.
What men hear: I’m fine, but I’m pissed off at you for not fixing the gate lock.
Romeo & Juliet is a classic example of why communication within a relationship is so crucial. I believe it is the key to any successful relationship and with a little forethought and some patience, these pitfalls can be avoided.