It pays to be bi-lingual.
I was born into a family that spoke both German and English. However, I was only taught to speak English. However, as a man, I think and speak Manian. And believe it or not, I also think and speak Womenese, the international language of women. I can think like a woman, if I have to, and I can understand their language and customs enough to get by and have even translated for other men on several occasions.
This is not to say that women are better than men or that men are better than women. This is (political incorrectness warning) to say that men and women are different. We look different, we feel different, we think different, and we even talk different. That is how God made us.
This difference is a wonderful thing that human pride and the forces of darkness have exploited and turned into conflict. And this is why we need people who at least understand both the conceptual language of women and the literal language of men.
I learned Womenese through osmosis. Being married for over thirty years and leading a ministry along with my wife, and years of experience leading volunteers, many of whom are women, have forced me to do more than shake my head and walk away.
Women have important things to say and they have lots of knowledge. When men do not understand what they say, we miss out. While it is crucial to understand their words, it is the thoughts that create concepts in those words that is the real problem for men.
There are times in which a woman says no and it is really no. Like when we ask if they want to change the tire this time. There are other times in which no means anything else but no. For example, when we ask them if we should stay home and nurse them through their cold rather than play hockey.
Another word that is difficult to understand is fine. This one is a legendary deal breaker in many relationships. Women are never fine. They may say it, but their thinking is in the concept of I just want a hug, or want to be heard, or want a cup of tea. If a woman says she is fine, our instinct is to run. Fight that instinct and find out why she is not fine.
And the third worst word for a man to hear from a woman is yes. Just like no, sometimes it really does mean yes. Like when we ask them if they want us to clean the house or make supper. Other times it is a verbal yes but a conceptual no. For example, when we ask if we can go on the fishing trip instead of celebrating our anniversary.
Then is the honest answer trap. This one is a tough one and is often combined with the question: Do you think? A classic example of this is the question of fear: Does this dress make me look fat? The answer for you rookies is always no. Even when they say they want the truth, the truth they want to hear is that we love them, value them, and no dress will ever change that.
The silent treatment is also a conceptual component of Womenese. However, this is not the exaggerated Hollywood version of a pouting selfish women trying to get noticed. This is a complicated language in itself that involves, looks, sighs, body posture, and cold coffee. The concept behind this communication technique is the idea that the man in their life has not noticed a new thing. It could be a hairstyle, clothes, or the new car in the driveway. To men, this seems a game but to a woman this is serious business. If we truly love them, we would notice that our blonde woman is now a brunette, or that she washed our truck. This act of service needs to be validated and acknowledged. They can not tell us what it is because then that is them doing the very thing we ought to do.
I realize this is a lot to take in. The bottom line is women need to be heard, valued, and loved for who they are just as we do. God made us different and God gave us different roles in live and in the household, He also gave us the ability to fulfill those roles. So, lets love each other and celebrate our differences instead of trying us to be the same.
Andy Becker is a retired counselor and author of The Travelers, a fictionalized account of spiritual warfare (available on Amazon). He and his wife, Stella, lead Lighthouse Ministries which offers love, hope, and encouragement to one of Canada’s poorest and roughest neighborhoods, North Central Regina. His book, The Travelers, is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca