Men and women are different, especially in how we communicate and how we think. It’s not always an easy task, but we all need to make an effort to understand the complex world of our spouse’s thoughts! Understanding this could save your marriage. With that in mind, I want to take some time today to explain why a man’s brain is like a waffle and a woman’s brain is like spaghetti!
MEN AND WOMEN ARE DIFFERENT
This was laid out for me in a very simple way by a book I read some months ago. The title of the book says it all:
– Men are like waffles, Women are like Spaghetti
What “waffle thinking” means is that men tend to be compartmental thinkers, like a waffle has different boxes. Men think in boxes. They have rigid walls between different emotions and different responsibilities in their lives. And when they’re in one box, it’s tough for them to change gears and get into a different box.
How many women have been wanting to say something to your man as he’s watching TV. How’s that working for you? See, he’s in the TV box. If you’re lucky and he’s actually looking at your face as you’re talking, don’t let that fool you. He’s not listening. The lights are on but nobody’s home. Don’t expect that anything you say in this moment will be remembered. Why not?
It’s not that he doesn’t love you, it’s not that he doesn’t want to be helpful, or listen it’s just that right now, he’s trapped in the TV box! He can’t get out!
What about Her?
Now, compare this to a woman. My wife is watching TV and I could read her a shopping list, what the kids want for supper, the plan for Friday night AND 5 stanzas of Shakespeare and she’d have it all in her mental rolodex without batting an eyelash.
That’s because women are like Spaghetti. With a plateful of Spaghetti, every strand of spaghetti touches all the others. So everything in a woman’s life touches. She’s constantly processing everything about her life. I’m not an expert in women, I got insight from a book, for MEN ONLY, Jeff and Shaunti Felltham – based on a survey of 500 women. They point out that men and women THINK they know each other in areas of communication habits.
But what they found out is that men and women only have a very superficial understanding.
– For example, every man knows that women are emotional.
– Another example, every woman knows that men are insecure, unromantic clods.
If that’s all you think, you’re going to not only be unsuccessful in communicating, you’re going to think there’s nothing to be done. The situation is hopeless. Your man or your woman will be like a black box to you with no way out, you just throw up your hands. But if we invite God’s self sacrificing love into our relationships, we’ll press through superficial understandings to get through and communicate LOVE.
WOMEN HAVE A BUNCH OF WINDOWS OPEN
Well, the key to de-swamping women is to realize that women are not just emotional. They are dealing with multiple thoughts and emotions from their past and present all the time, at the same time and these can’t be easily dismissed.
Try this out sometime. At a random moment in your day, ask your wife what she’s thinking about. Make sure you’ve cleared a few minutes in your schedule because it might take a while! One husband did this and his wife said, “right now? Well let’s see, I’m thinking about this article that I’m writing. In addition, I’m thinking I need to check the pizza in the oven pretty soon. I’m hoping the kids are doing OK out on the trampoline and I’m wondering if I should go check on them. Furthermore, I’m wondering if we’re going to hear back tonight about that business deal. And if you really want to know, I’m wondering about that argument we had this morning and if you’re still upset at me. There’s probably more, you want me to keep going?
A guy thinks, how do you get anything done? Just turn the extra stuff off! But here’s the truth: they can’t. And this affects how your wife communicates with you every single day.
A Woman’s Mind
Picture this. You’re working on your computer and you have two Word documents you’re working on, an excel spreadsheet and your home budgeting program running. And in addition, your email program and internet browser are running. Now add something else. Imagine some of the old files have been open for weeks and there’s also some spyware running and keeps some annoying pop ups popping up. You try to install anti-spyware, but those pesky things keep coming back so the best you can do is try to ignore them and focus on the other half dozen tasks you’re juggling at the same time.
Welcome to a woman’s mind. It is not a normal instrument! If we define normal by us men. For women it’s windows open, all the time. On a survey of 500 women, 8 out of ten said this is what their mental world is like. Now maybe this explains some things like why your woman jumps topics. You think she’s muddled, but women are like spaghetti, it all connects. This may explain why your woman gives you more information than you need. You think you’re being lectured, but she’s just trying to close a window or two. If she gives you all the info she has, she can close one of her hundred or so pop ups. Or why your woman has perhaps more to talk about at the end of the day than you do. And why you’re woman never forgets that time you screwed up.
I’m not kidding.
Women were asked, how often they experience emotions from past experiences in the recent or distant past rise up in their mind. 89% said this happens to them, 50% said often or very often. So that’s why you’ve felt blindsided by her bringing up something that happened two years ago or twenty years ago! You know how you can get an unwanted sexual image pop up in your head? Can you always help that? No, and neither can she.
This is also why you are surprised by a sudden flare up of emotion attached to a memory or you get stung by the unexpected heat that turns something you think is little into an argument.
God Made Her that Way
Now, Husband, these moments happen because God has made your woman wonderfully complex. Who hasn’t sat in wonder at the marvelous female mind, that can be cooking dinner, comforting a friend on the phone, coaching a homework assignment and scheduling tomorrow’s activities ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
However, the challenge to communicate with your wife is simply this, a considerate husband realizes windows are open all the time. Men, it’s been a challenge for me to be less defensive when I think that an open window is somehow a reflection on me. OK, actually sometimes, it is but often, it’s just a nagging thought that she wants to close out but she can’t.
What’s a Man to Do?
So a considerate husband is called to do what? First we are to stop saying, “just stop thinking about it!” That’s not going to work. You might as well try to eat spaghetti one noodle at a time without them touching. It can’t be done. But here’s what you can do. You can help her close her windows.
So often my wife’s open windows are just an annoyance to me. I think she’s being petty or anxious or even combative because she won’t close them. But in truth, she WANTS to close them, but can’t. So a huge key in this is listening.
Now almost all of us men have heard about the fact that women don’t want you to fix the problem, they want you to listen. But here’s what this means in practice. Her feelings about the problem ARE the problem and you need to fix your need to fix.
When a window is open, to close it, she needs to process how she FEELS about the problem. The man is thinking, I need to filter out all this emotion and get at the facts. You don’t get it. The emotion IS part of the facts that must be considered. To help her close a window, we need to do the exact opposite! Don’t filter out the emotion to focus on the problem, filter out the problem to focus on the emotion.
Women are Smart
Women are smart, they’ve probably thought of all your brilliant ideas already. What 8 out of 10 of them need most often, is acknowledgment or validation of their emotion. This means we say things like, I’m so sorry. You must be really upset! I can’t believe that happened to you!
This is in contradiction to what we (men) WANT to do. Which is, to tell your wife that she is overreacting. To question her version of the facts. And to tell her to quit crying and (here’s the big winner!:). Some of us will wonder aloud of it’s “that time of the month”! Not helpful. But if we can be considerate as the Bible says, we can help communicate care and affection and love and help our wives close some windows on their busy, spaghetti brains.I hope this helps you communicate better with your wife. I could go on and on about this but it’s time now to turn to the men.
MEN ARE SINGLE MINDED
Men are like waffles.
Now, in honor of the male brain, let’s just take a time out and remember that only a single minded man could ever pour dozens of hours into every aspect of planning and executing a football game plan or a hunting trip or a engine rebuild. My wife, is one of the most detailed people I know, and when she starts to paint a room she can’t hang with it, but I can focus on a project till it’s conquered. A man can get lost in his garage, in his garden, in his study for hours and come out with something amazing.
But the communication downside of this is simple. Even women who work long hours outside the home may not be able to appreciate how tough it is for a man to switch from the fast-paced, high practical attitude of work, to the tenderness needed to communicate at home. You see your man comes home from work and he bulldozes the house!
See, he’s in the work box. He’s still on the hunt. People are meeting goals and responding to orders and he’s ordering his world, but home requires a less frenetic touch. The Bible says to fathers, “Father don’t exasperate your children.”
That is, don’t frustrate them, or move your family into anger. It’s so easy for men to do, because they bring their driven, focused, goal oriented bent into the home and promptly drive everyone loony. So often, when you see him come home, sit on the couch and surf all 369 channels, it’s not a personal slight or uncaring. He’s trying to change boxes. It’s hard.
I read about one woman and how she dealt with this issue, realizing this transition from work box to home box is so hard, she stopped taking it personally and started a habit of allowing her husband to talk about work after work. They called it couch time. It was an inviolable 20 minutes from the moment he walked in the door. The kids knew not to bother mom and dad during that time. She asked questions, he babbled for several minutes and before he knew it, he’s in the home box because he was able to put work issues away in a safe environment. Plus it’s a great way to build intimacy.
So, women, if your husband brings up a subject to talk about, he wants to stay in that box. Don’t jump boxes on him because you see how it connects to everything else. You open up too many boxes and your man just feels defeated. He can’t solve all that and if he can’t solve it, he’ll get overwhelmed. And then he will do one of two things. He will either shut down or get angry. If he feels there’s no solution, no end game to the conversation then he can’t win, he can’t succeed and he loses motivation.
So stay focused on the box he opens or he is in and resist the urge to open up other boxes. You must buy him some time.
THE LOVE LANGUAGE
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only what it is helpful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those who listen.
Communicate according to their needs. And the greatest need each of us have, is to feel loved. What does your spouse NEED in order to feel loved? It might not be the same thing you need. If you’re in a communication rut, chances are, the rut you’re in is comfortable for you.
The 5 Love Pathways
- – You like to serve and do nice things for those you love. That’s says it for you, so that’s what you do.
- – You like to say it, you say I LOVE YOU with words! That’s easy, so that’s what you do.
- – You like to touch the person you love. That communicates it to you just fine.
- – You like to be with your spouse, so you block out chunks of time to say I love you that way.
- – You like to give gifts or opportunities to show affection.
See friends, these are 5 love pathways (Gary Chapman). Which one is yours? Which one is your spouses? We should become conversant and proficient in all of them.
We can learn another love language can’t we? What does he or she NEED? Learn to communicate the Bible says, along that pathway. God has.
Now go and show yourself a man! Love your woman the way God created her and your relationship will reflect God’s glory on Earth!
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