Speak to men in plain English
Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I’d like to thank an anonymous reader for sending in a column idea about communicating with men. She didn’t want her name shared as she thought it might embarrass her husband. Fear not, Mrs. Anonymous. I’m sure the readers of this column will concur that you are not alone.
Years ago, as a young wife, I learned a valuable lesson. My husband speaks English — plain English. Men have often been the target of women’s wrath because they prefer direct communication over veiled female innuendos. Take this conversation I recently had with a female newly-wed friend.
“Mrs. Lisa, (sob, sob) Jim just doesn’t understand me. I mean, I really wanted to go to Nashville for my birthday. But he cooked a bad Italian dinner for me at home instead. (sob, sob). I ran to the bedroom and cried and cried. He didn’t understand my disappointment, so he just kept saying he loved me, but I knew it couldn’t be true. Besides, his garlic and onion Ragu breath just about knocked me out. To add insult to injury, he actually stuck candles in Hostess honey buns! Can you believe that? He could have at least taken off the cellophane wrappers!! It was the worst birthday ever! What in the world is WRONG with this man?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Lola. When you told Jim you wanted to go to Nashville for your birthday, he probably just realized it was too expensive or maybe he forgot.”
“Told him? Told him what? Mrs. Lisa, I didn’t TELL Jim I wanted to go to Nashville for my birthday. I wanted him to figure OUT that I wanted to go to Nashville for my birthday. I thought he would SENSE that I love the big city and that it would make a great birthday trip.”
“Lola, you’re kidding, right? How did you think he would ‘sense’ this information?”
“Well, (sob, sob) if Jim really loved me, well, he would have noticed the brochures I had about the outlet mall. He would have overheard me talking to my mother on the phone about my favorite French restaurant on Music Row. I mean, he would have just known I’d rather go to Nashville than eat Ragu and macaroni at home. Wouldn’t he?”
“No. A thousand times no. Sister, you need to start speaking a new language. It’s called plain English. Let me illustrate. It’s really rather simple: ‘Jim, Friday is my birthday. Do you think we could go to Nashville for my birthday? I would really love that!’”
“You mean I’d actually, well ... have to say it. I mean, just come out and say it OUT LOUD.”
“Absolutely. Girl, you need to get free of sorority talk and start watching ESPN. You need to stop accusing him of insensitivity and start communicating with real words.”
Some men are rude and crude and mean-spirited. If you’re married to a rude, crude or mean-spirited man, I am truly sorry. I hurt for you. But a whole lot of you are married to nice guys. And you’re hurting them at every turn because you’re expecting them to speak in code. Agent 007 is the only man who speaks in code ... and that’s just when he’s dangling from a cliff and yelling to the Russian double agent in the helicopter. The rest of the time he communicates pretty simply. Women, let’s do men a favor. Learn to speak the truth in love. Just remember to use plain English.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.25.09
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View