The meaning of words and conversation
Words are vehicles of ideas and conversation is the highway upon which these vehicles drive. However, the purpose for operating these vehicles is vastly different for men and women.
People drive motor vehicles for two main reasons. 1. To get from point A to point B. 2. To enjoy the ride in your vehicle of choice. Some people drive strictly for one of the two reasons and some people drive because of a mixture of the two reasons.
Likewise, men hold conversation primarily for the content of what's being said, the destination. Women hold conversation primarily for the connection that results from conversing, the journey.
Human beings and human doings
The idea that women are human beings and men are human doings is well established in TRP communities and discussed from time to time. Here, I will focus on how this concept relates to male and female conversation styles.
As a human doing, the default male setting is to not exist unless he's worthy of existence. Through accomplishment - doing - a man becomes worthy of existence. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant, this is the underlying premise behind many male thoughts, feelings and actions. Therefore, everything needs a goal to achieve, a mission to complete and a destination to reach.
As a human being, the default female setting is to exist, period. No reasons or goals necessary. A woman need not justify her actual existence, rather, she needs to fill this existence with more existence. She does this by connecting with other people. The purpose is the journey, not the destination.
As a side note - men tend to enjoy working with things and women tend to enjoy working with people. This is reflected in many areas of life.
The purpose of conversation
We can now understand why there's often a huge chasm between men and women when we try to converse with one another. Especially between husband and wife. Your husband needs you to get to the point but for you there might not be a point, there's the journey of expressing yourself.
This chasm is so wide that it causes tension even between the best of couples.
A caring husband wants to pleas and indulge his wife by listening to her carry on about all the details of her day. However, his mind is wired to seek a goal, a problem to solve, a point of summary. Listening to you ramble on is torturous to him like the cat trying to chase the laser beam. Despite his best efforts, his mind will tune her out and he'll be accused of not listening. This in turn will make conversation with his wife an anxiety inducing activity which he'll engage in anyway because it's a challenge to conquer.
OTOH, the wife has emotional needs and part of these needs is for her to speak her mind to those who are close with her. Long conversation helps her bond with her husband and can even relieve her stress (often transferring it to him). If she can't converse with her husband, the marriage will be dry and dull for her.
This leads us to the stalemate of all stalemates - she needs to speak her mind and heart, he can't follow. As a result, she may feel like he isn't listening to her and therefore doesn't care about her. He may feel tremendous anxiety at the prospect of having to listen to her ramble on. He'll feel falsely accused of not caring. Thus, countless arguments ensue.
It's clear that husband and wife need to understand each other's needs in conversation and to do their best to fulfill these needs without hurting their own needs. Here are some agreements you can reach that may help.
- Edit - When possible, ramble to a close female friend.
- Edit - That you let him know "I need to vent" if you don't want solutions.
- That it be okay for him to cut the conversation at any point, even mid sentence.
- That the conversation stop as soon as he cuts it.
- That you don't take this personally.
- That you not quiz him on what you said.
- If it's clear that he missed some of what you said, let it slide.
- That you summarize at the end.
- That you appreciate his listening. Thank you for listening is a great way to end a conversation. Even better if it's followed by physical affection.
- That you let him know when you want a solution and when you want him to just listen.
Words and conversation mean different things for men and women. For men it's about the destination, for women it's about the journey.
Due to our wiring, conversation is a necessity for women and often a stress relief. Men can spend days together in silence, conversation can be stressful and anxiety inducing.
Therefore, many misunderstandings may arise when men and women speak to each other. Men are accused of mansplaining and women are accused of rambling endlessly. These misunderstandings can cause a rift even in the best of marriages. Some basic agreements can greatly reduce these misunderstandings and increase peace and harmony in the home.