Several years ago I was on a speaking tour of Texas with my wife when what has become known as the infamous “San Antonio Incident” occurred. One day we stopped in downtown San Antonio and stayed at a wonderful hotel across the street from The Alamo. Later that evening we took a leisurely stroll hand-in-hand visiting the shops along the River Walk. We then spent a romantic, candle lit dinner at an outdoor table overlooking the river. As we slowly talked and ate our steaks in the candle light I made a mistake that haunts me to this day. I somewhat absently commented that the woman at the table behind me had a nice laugh. I didn’t make a big deal of it just mentioning it in passing. In fact, I couldn’t even see her but had been hearing her gay tinkling laughter in the background during the course of our conversation.
Suddenly the air temperature surrounding our table dropped to near arctic levels. I’m still not exactly sure why, but my wife was inexplicitly perhaps as mad at me as she has ever been during our previous 28 years of marriage. It was as if I had broken some sacred, unspoken rule obvious to all of womankind but that was unknown to me. She stormed off to the hotel with me trailing behind in tow, doing damage control as quickly (and lamely) as I could. She fumed at me for the better part of several days afterwards.
From what I’ve been able to piece together from my wife and by asking other female friends (who are not at all surprised at her response by the way), I somehow betrayed a sacred rule of womanhood by being even peripherally aware of another woman during a time when my entire focus was supposed to be solely on my wife.Needless to say, I might be stupid but I’m not dumb. I’ve never mentioned another woman’s laugh since.
Women have many unspoken rules that they all seem to know but they never share with men until it’s too late. The way a woman was raised, the model she observed of her parent’s relationship, and the communication rules in the home she was raised in all influence the way she internally believes a male and female should relate to one another. Oftentimes these assumptions are diametrically opposed to the modeling and training her husband was exposed to while growing up.
If you have unspoken rules, please let your husband (or wife) know what they are. He can get in enough trouble on his own without unintentionally violating a rule with which he wasn’t even aware.
This article is excerpted from Rick’s book, The Marriage of Your Dreams: A Woman’s Guide to Understanding Her Man, by Revel Publishing, 2012. Get it at www.betterdads.net