I already mentioned that I thought Reforming Marriage was aggressive toward husbands. I meant this in a good way. Very few marriage books are written in such a way that the men are addressed as leaders. However, it wasn’t until two nights ago that I thought Wilson was being too easy on women. In discussing the differences between men and women in the area of communication, Wilson writes:
For example, suppose a husband comes home from work, and it occurs…to him that quite possibly his wife did not have the best day. He asks her if anything is wrong. She says nothing is wrong. By this she means that so many things are wrong that she cannot put her finger on one thing alone, and besides anybody could see that something was wrong. He says, “Good. For a second there I thought something was wrong,” and goes out to watch the news. Later in the evening, he discovers his error–there is a big blow-up. She thinks he should have picked up on the fact that something was wrong, and he maintains that he asked, and she said nothing was wrong. Men and women have different ways in which they use the English language. When we fail to properly translate our words and thoughts, problems follow on hard.
I must confess that I can completely relate to this story. There have been many, many occasions that Si has arrived home to find me overwhelmed. Part of this is because I have so diligently trained our children to argue with each other beginning at exactly five o’clock.
I also know, being female, how difficult it is to give a straight answer sometimes. I’ve struggled with it myself. I also well remember how shocked I was when I realized that my husband says exactly what he means and doesn’t mean anything in addition to what he says he means.
If you know what I mean.
Men are just this way, and it is a very comforting fact, once you get used to it.
If my husband asks me if I had a bad day, or if something is wrong, and I did, and something is, and my answer is “no, nothing is wrong,” I am lying to my husband.
If I had a “blow-up” later with my husband, it should have been because he confronted me about lying to him and saying nothing was wrong when something was very wrong indeed.
I know what it is to be overwhelmed. I know what it is to feel like something is wrong and not be able to name it. And when my husband asks me what is wrong in those moments, it is my responsibility as a person of integrity to say something along the lines of “I don’t know” or “everything feels wrong right now.”
I was disappointed in Wilson, not for being so hard on men, but for not being hard enough on the women in this instance. If something is wrong and I say that nothing is wrong, this is not “using the English language differently.” This is lying. And lying is a threat to the relationship, a sin against the relationship, and there is no excuse for lying, nor for acting as if my husband is the guilty one because it was not immediately evident to him that I was lying.
Whenever we talk about communication differences between men and women, I think we have to be very careful not to excuse bad, sinful behavior on the part of one of the parties involved.
With that said, I must note that this is a small “bump” in a an overwhelmingly wonderful book, and it is still in the running for being my favorite marriage book of all time. I haven’t decided yet because…well, because we haven’t finished reading it.
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