A Failure To Communicate

One of the various subjects this blog is devoted to is analyzing and addressing the differences in communication styles and methods between men and women. No easy task, given both the difficulty of the subject matter as well as social conditions. However, it is a critical one as failures to understand how men and women communicate are a major cause of family troubles in the present age- especially among Christians.

For a recent example of a failure to communicate, see this post and its follow-up by Sunshine Mary. They stem from a post by Dalrock, Unhinged. All three posts showcase a serious ignorance of how how men and women communicate. I encourage my readers to look at all three posts, as this post won’t make sense without that- especially Sunshine’s most recent post. In my post I want to focus in particular on that second one, “Is the problem a lack of listening or a lack of submitting?”

The Good Pastor that Sunshine discusses is a man concerned about his wife’s well-being. Perfect? Of course not. No man is. Yet it is clear that he tried to, in his mind, find out what was wrong. To discover what was bothering his wife. Unfortunately, his ignorance of his wife’s nature got in the way of his honorable efforts. Instead of making things better, his efforts to find out what was troubling his wife only made matters worse.

No doubt Pastor Wangerin believed that he was listening to his wife, or at least, willing to listen. Sadly, he wasn’t. Oh, he was listening to what words she said. But he utterly failed to listen to the real message that she was trying to convey. A message conveyed without words. This is a common error that men make- we pay attention to the verbal message and miss all of the other cues that women are sending our way. In many instances, especially when the matter is important, and emotions are involved, the verbal message is less important than non-verbal communication. Sometimes it doesn’t matter at all.

Wangerin’s wife was sending a barrage of messages his way, but he kept on missing them. His wife, of course, couldn’t help but notice that he missed them. To her they were plain as day.  If he was listening to her then he would, of course, understand what she was trying to tell him. So she interpreted this (mostly at an unconscious level) to mean he wasn’t listening! 

Remember, women expect men to Just. Get. It. A real man would just understand what is going on. He wouldn’t need it explained to him. Pastor Wangerin’s continued inquiries only served to remind his wife, again and again, that he didn’t get it. This conveyed to her, at an unconscious level, that he wasn’t a real man. That is the message he conveyed to his wife.

His wife later told him that she felt that he wasn’t prioritizing her enough, among other things. Said other way, she didn’t feel like he was present enough in her life. Fascinatingly enough, this was probably a true charge on her part. She likely did miss his masculine presence in her life. Unfortunately, his inability to understand his wife meant that he acted in such a way as to heighten this absence in her life.

If there is a lesson to be learned here (and I think there is more than one), it is that husbands need to listen to all that their wife says. That means what she says verbally, and what she says non-verbally. Pay more attention to your wife’s behavior and mannerisms so you can pick up those subtle cues. Is this a lot of work? Sure is. But it is part of the duty of headship.

Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honor on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.

(1 Peter 3:7)

At the same time, wives need to understand that men do not communicate as they do. They need to keep this in mind, and to alter their own communication style so they can sync up with their husbands. Don’t simply assume that they will “get you.” This means less non-verbal communication, and more straightforward explanation to one’s husband of what is wrong. Both of you will benefit from clear communication between you.

My soul takes pleasure in three things,
    and they are beautiful in the sight of the Lord and of men;
agreement between brothers, friendship between neighbors,
    and a wife and a husband who live in harmony.

(Sirach 25:1)

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17 Comments

Filed under Marriage, Men, Red Pill, Sunshine Mary, Women

17 responses to “A Failure To Communicate

  1. What if the husband simply can’t read the level of nuance the wife is using? It becomes another vehicle for her to disrespect and manipulate him to her advantage, always painting her as the wronged party, the victim.

  2. Maea

    May I also point out a lot of men expect women to just get it, too?

  3. Maea

    After reading the posts and the interactions between the couples, it gave me a headache. If a wife really believes there’s something wrong and needs her husband to address it, she needs to say it plainly. My view is, if something truly bothers you that much, better to say it straight. I don’t see the problem any differently if say, the issue was equipment at home requiring maintenance, a child misbehaving, etc.

    Pastor Wangerin shouldn’t have coddled is wife’s tantrums, either. It would have been better for him to ask the next day about why she was crying, and if she refused to answer let her know it’s not helpful. If she’s not willing to share what he did to offend her, how can he figure out how to resolve it? If she’s not willing to talk about it at the time, she needs to say so and she’ll talk about it when she’s ready. Not throw tantrum after tantrum.

    One of the ideas many women hold about “feminine communication” in our culture is being forthright and tactful is unbecoming for a woman. She should instead resort to “subtle hints” (and not so subtle) along the way and expect a man to see the full picture. That doesn’t work, obviously.

  4. What you say about she likely did miss his masculine pretense probably really gets to the heart. A man can be physically present but if he is being wussy, he isn’t really there in the sort of way a woman needs. So when she complains that he is never around, etc., what she maybe really is saying is that strong commanding presence I need is not around. Men then get confused cause they think, “what is she talking about as I come home every night, I do this and that, but still she claims I am not here.” Women dont’ just want a male body in the house, they want dominance and leadership.

    Maea, what you say about women being forthright as unbecoming is very true. When I say things bluntly, truly speak my mind, I get labeled as masculine. Probably the whole “winning him over without a word” plays into that too. Best not to speak about what is bothering us, hold it all in, pray, in hopes that he will one day get it.

  5. Presence not pretense.

  6. A better Scripture for the wives would be Jesus:

    “Let your yes be yes, and your no be no”

    AKA Communicate Verbally Clearly.

  7. Looking Glass

    While as a general principle, I would agree that learning to understand body language is a good idea for facilitating communication & understanding, but in this case, the Pastor ran into a classic problem most Men will: his Wife was being petulant and evil. Yes, evil.

    The Pastor’s problem comes down to not realizing his wife was waist-deep in a sinful mindset and was going to see it through. That’s what he couldn’t figure out and why his acts of kindness backfired. For as much from an analytical perspective we can understand why his wife responded worse when he was helping around the house, under absolutely no terms should it be ignored that his wife’s response to Love was Anger & Sin. That is her sin and not his own. That he might be ignorant is something he should fix; that she chose her sin is upon her head and soul.

  8. Pedat Ebediyah

    I agree with Looking Glass’ sentiments as written here and on Sunshine’s post.

    The wife was being silly, and the husband was grasping at straws trying to communicate to her the best he could given how he had likely always communicated with her.

    The other issue is ongoing communication between spouses.  Not only that, people dear to me in general.

    At some point I might ask someone as earnestly – yet informally as possible, “so hey, what’s up…anything going on that I need to know – or anything you want to talk about?”

    I’ve done this with women I’ve dated, and other than one or two who have just been duplicitous or inarticulate, it usually works out very well.  Communication hasn’t been an issue for me for the most part, as it has been a lack of congruence in values and priorities.

    If the wife in this situation had been pulling his coat to her feelings all along, then it may not have been so bad.

    OTOH, this could have been the result of a lack of clarity in understanding what she signed up for, a lack of clarity on what he promised he could do and be as a husband (in the practical sense), patterns of broken promises and commitments on his part, a lack of earnestness in her commitment to his mission/calling, and a host of other things.

    But the bottom line is that you can’t get to the bottom line unless you open your mouth and spit it out. 

    If I had been him, and practicing the things that I generally practice, “so hey, what’s up…” and you still want to act a fool when you’ve had the door cracked and the light on to say what the hell is on your mind from “giddy-up”,  then yeah, there is a problem, and its not mine.

    Just like women want men to JUST.GET.IT…if my hand has been eternally extended to you and you still throw tantrums, then you can JUST.GET.OUT, until you come to your senses.

    I guess this is why I’m not good at Game, because if Father Yahweh tells me to “write the vision and make it plain, then I expect my wife to plainly see it.

  9. Michael Kozaki

    If a wife really believes there’s something wrong and needs her husband to address it, she needs to say it plainly. I don’t see the problem any differently if say, the issue was equipment at home requiring maintenance, a child misbehaving, etc…Wangerin shouldn’t have coddled is wife’s tantrums, either.

    Thank God somebody is still sane. Was starting to wonder. Running to Scripture for this short of silliness? Seems almost sacrilegious.

    I was going to say something (not charitable!) but Maea said it more diplomatically.

  10. Dash Riprock

    Slightly off topic but did you catch how angry she got when he was doing her housework? I think that absolutely goes to what one astute commentator above was saying about her missing a masculine presence and on almost a conscious level telling him to stop the blue pill madness. I suspect if he had matched her petulant teenage drama queen behavior with a strong dose of masculinity, things would have been resolved themselves in a different manner rather quickly. Of course masculinity is rejected by today’s “servant-leaders”.
    As it was he only rewarded her bad behavior. And as Old Pavlov would have told you, when you reward bad behavior, you get………. more bad behavior.

  11. Maea

    Probably the whole “winning him over without a word” plays into that too. Best not to speak about what is bothering us, hold it all in, pray, in hopes that he will one day get it.

    The whole “winning him over without a word” commandment to women is about not nagging to one’s husband. That’s my interpretation, and when it comes down to it a wife needs to speak plainly. Wives MUST learn the difference between knowing the appropriate context for addressing issues, and when it’s been enough to not draw their husband’s annoyance (which can lead to anger).

    A lot of women are looked down on for being direct (even with great tact). Our culture also teaches men to expect this kind from women too, and incongruous female behavior is responded with negativity. Except from the men who think counter-culturally, but they’re a minority. ESP is presumed on both sides, and it’s considered communication.

  12. “If there is a lesson to be learned here (and I think there is more than one), it is that husbands need to listen to all that their wife says. That means what she says verbally, and what she says non-verbally. Pay more attention to your wife’s behavior and mannerisms so you can pick up those subtle cues. Is this a lot of work? Sure is. But it is part of the duty of headship.”

    I think that’s true; but it’s not really a lesson that I picked up from the exchanges among Dalrock, Insanity and Sunshine, or from the subject matter of the posts discussed.

    IN the case of Pastor Wangerin, there was really nothing he could pick up nonverbally, because his wife wasn’t saying anything. The ONLY thing that was apparent was that Mrs. W. did not want to talk about it. So the only thing the pastor could do was to not talk to her anymore about it. He would have to leave her alone and say nothing more to her about it until such time as she was ready to TALK (not act out, but talk) about it. (That is how men Just Get It in this situation.) That would require her verbalizing, clearly and succinctly, exactly what was causing her such anger and hostility.

    This is so counterintuitive for men. Wife being upset is a problem. Husband, being a man, immediately shifts to “problem-solve” mode, because that’s what men do with problems. We fix them. We resolve them. We then put it aside and move on to the next problem or issue, and solve that. But in this case, when Pastor has used all the tools in his arsenal (asking what the problem is so it can be identified), and they aren’t working, he has to wait for a time to present itself when the known tools he has (asking) are going to work. And so the responsibility is on Mrs. W. She has to actually TALK. She has to tell him what the problem is. She has to identify the problem and then also identify whether she even wants a solution. This absolves the man of trying to “do more” when he’s already done all he can; and puts the responsibility on the wife for both her feelings and for identifying the problem and asking for help when she is ready.

    So in a case like this, reading the nonverbals, the only conclusion to be reached is “stop talking to her until she’s ready to talk.” Which confirms all sorts of Red Pill theory as well.

  13. I might add: Insanity loves to talk about her opinion that “not listening to a wife is psychological abuse!” and that “not listening is not being loving!”

    In the case of Pastor Wangerin, his walking away from his wife and leaving her alone, not asking her anymore about what was eating her up, not doing any of her chores or work, and simply leaving her be, would have been the most loving, kindest and most caring thing he could have done. And doing all these things (simply leaving her alone) IS IN FACT listening to her.

    She was literally screaming at her husband

    “I DO NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHAT IS BOTHERING ME. I DO NOT WANT TO DISCUSS IT WITH YOU. LEAVE ME ALONE!”

    under those circumstances, the only kind and loving thing to do is to leave her alone, until such time as she was ready to talk. And at the point where she’s ready to talk, then hear what she has to say.

    But it seems to Insanity that “HE DOES NOT LISTEN TO ME” really means “he is not doing what I tell him to do” or “He does not do what I want him to do when I want him to do it” or “He does not solve problems the way I want him to resolve them”.

  14. feeriker

    IME, the reason most wives in these examples (Misses Keller, Rainey, Wangerin, et al.) don’t verbalize the complaints behind their tantrums is because they know full well that they’re being childish, petulant and selfish and that coming right out and saying what they want to say to a red-pill husband who maintains his masculine frame will very quickly reveal this to be the case. Therefore the hamster kicks into high gear, enabling them to camouflage their rebellion for a time and project their own sinful behavior onto their husbands.

    So yes, it is one massive shit test. All of these pastor husbands have publicly admitted to failing them.

  15. feeriker

    Oh, and a question for all you Mrs. Pastors out there whining about your husbands putting in long hours away from home. I ask you the same queston I ask of military wives: Did you seriously not see this coming? Are you so clueless and ignorant of his profession and what it demands of him that you didn’t consider this before you agreed to marry him?

    As for Mrs. Wangerin, I sense a strong streak of SIW there. I wonder if her husband saw that and chose to overlook it when he proposed to her, or if he came from that feminized generation of men that was so thoroughly indoctrinated to see such behavior in women as normal that he didn’t even notice it.

  16. Feeriker – perhaps a pastor’s wife would see the long hours away from home coming, but shouldn’t the pastor have also seen that, if he wanted to have a family, he would also be needed there? It seems to me that God, family, church would be the proper order for any pastor’s priorities. And I know from experience, there are very few real needs from members of a congregation that can’t be taken care of during office hours. So a pastor out and about at all hours is probably more full of self-importance than anything else.

  17. feeriker

    @SussaneH

    You could’ve saved some bits and keystrokes by simply writing “it’s always the husband’s fault.”

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