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You just don't understand!

A Conversation

Level: Advanced




Bobby: I'm upset with Yolanda. She fights with me over almost everything.

Mike: You've been married so long. Still, you and Yolanda are like cats and dogs. Can't you both, guys, sort out your problems?

Bobby: We don't have big problems.

Mike: So, why are you fighting then all the time?

Bobby: Well, isn't it so damn wrong to argue for almost over everything?

Mike: Yeah. I think so.

Bobby: You never complaint about Laura. I'm kind of jealous of you, Mike.

Mike: We have problems but Laura is such a cool-cat. Whenever she disagrees with me, she reasons with me. She has no temper. She's like that at work, too.

Bobby: That's an unusual quality when it comes to women. Women are emotional, and Yolanda is the worst. Everything I say upsets her.

Mike: Yet, interestingly enough you, guys, have been married so long. How long have you been married?

Bobby: Over ten years.

Mike: So there must be something you both care in your marriage. Am I right?

Bobby: Sure, we have plenty in common. We share the same dreams, and I still love her.

Mike: She must be lovable despite all the fights. Have you ever considered getting marriage counseling?

Bobby: Yolanda and I talked about it several times. She thinks, first of all I must stop blaming her all the time.

Mike: Is that right? Do you agree with her?

Bobby: No, I don't agree with her. She does the same.

Mike: Like I said, you're both like cats and dogs. Why not begin to find a way to stop blaming one another?

Bobby: That's easy to say than do, Mike. Yolanda reacts to everything I say as if she has no brain to think, but she only feels bad and reacts.

Mike: Look, Bobby, the way you sound now you're blaming her.

Bobby: I'm only telling the truth.

Mike: I used to resent Laura for blames, too. It also bothered me when Laura said "You just don't understand!"

Bobby: But you have no problems with her now. So, what did you do? Did you see a marriage counselor?

Mike: Yes, we did. But, it took more than seeing a marriage counselor. I wanted to understand Laura. She's my wife and a great mother. I love my wife.

Bobby: What'd you mean? "More than seeing a marriage counselor?"

Mike: Yes, we worked with a marriage counselor but did more than that. I practically took all the pains looking into everything she complaints about: sharing responsibilities; how to spend our money; how to spend quality time together. And on top of that, the way I listen to her, talk to her.

Bobby: Hold it, Mike. You're ahead of me. First, we too have the same issues, like sharing responsibilities, spending money and having quality time together. But mostly, she's unhappy about why I don't understand her when we talk.

Mike: Laura was unhappy about it, too. We, men, are goal-oriented. We're happy if wives keep the house good, respond to our intimacy needs and share financial responsibilities. Then we're okay. But women are process-oriented.

Bobby: True. For Yolanda it's all about how we do things, relate to one another. She must be happy about the process.

Mike: That's very much so with all women I've learned.

Bobby: But Yolanda is happy about me, at least, on one thing: I make her feel I love her.

Mike: No wonder why your marriage has survived so far despite constant fights. But Yolanda also complaints you don't understand her. Doesn't she?

Bobby: Yeah, we fight over taking care of Judy, house chores. She's opposed to my spending on new tech stuff and I'm against her sending Judy in a public school. Although we can afford private school, Yolanda thinks we need to save for her college fund.

Mike: These are common issues in marriages. But, the core of the problem I see is you both have never worked on how to compromise. In order to find a midway, you need to communicate with her effectively.

Bobby: What shall I do? How do I speak to her?

Mike: First, let me tell you this: make her feel her opinion counts. Express your desire that you want to understand her. Ask her to help you understand her. Ask her not take you word-by-word.

Bobby: Ok. Go on.

Mike: I wanted to understand how Laura feels; why she responds to me the ways she does. Actually, the marriage counsel wanted I do that.

Bobby: Yolanda some times cries hard with yearnings: "Why don't you try to understand me?"

Mike: She's right, Bobby. However, I tried hard before we took on counseling, but I couldn't figure out how Laura thinks and communicates. The marriage-counsel was a male and he confessed that it took him quite a while to understand his wife.

Bobby: Yeah. I know that book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". I must put myself in her shoe in order to be able to see things from her stand point.

Mike: It's more than that, Bobby. I've done a lot of reading, talking with Laura day and night, and we also participated in group therapy with other married couples.

Bobby: What've you learned?

Mike: It was not only learning, though. It was an awakening to the fact that women do not think, feel and process information the same ways as we, men, do.

Bobby: Right. I know that.

Mike: I don't think you do. Trust me when you really understand how Yolanda thinks, feels about things, and processes what you say, then you'll come a long way.

Bobby: You're suggesting we see a marriage counsel and do the work.

Mike: Exactly. Read experts on woman psychology and communication differences.

Bobby: Yeah. They're emotional. They react rather than think first, and then talk.

Mike: Are you saying, we, men, are rational but women are not at all?

Bobby: Maybe. Some women, like Laura, are more rational.

Mike: No, I didn't say Laura is always rational. But, what makes Laura communicate well with me is: I've learned to understand her. My wife is very sensitive to how I talk to her.

Bobby: How'd you talk to her?

Mike: I've learned to listen to her better. I listen patiently and then rephrase what she said, then ask if that's what she meant.

Bobby: What else?

Mike: I try to choose right words.

Bobby: I try to do that, but then my patience runs short. I lose my temper when she cries.

Mike: Don't you see she cries out of frustration because she can't reach you. Just ask her this: "Tell me Yolanda, how should I have said what I said to you now and you got upset." Ask her "Is that what you mean?" before you answer her.

Bobby: I do that, but not the way you suggest.

Mike: Ok. Try this time the way I suggest for a change, for God's Sake! Actually, the marriage counsel wanted both of us to do that. "Before saying anything back, make sure you understand the message."

Bobby: Ok. Take it easy, man!

Mike: First, this way you'll show Yolanda you want to work with her. Second, she'll be more calm and rational. Instead of arguing with you, she'll reason with you, just like my cool-cat.

Bobby: How about sharing household chores?

Mike: I know I should do more. She wants me to walk the dog early in the morning, which is hard for me because I like to sleep more. But we manage. If I'm asleep, she does that for me then I pay her back.

Bobby: I help her a lot with house hold chores. She never appreciates me.

Mike: You mean she doesn't thank you at all.

Bobby: Yes, she does. But not enough.

Mike: I'll bet you piss her off. Do you help her enough? Or, do you make her remind you all the time of what you need to do?

Bobby: I do but she thinks I don't do it enough. What else?

Mike: Ask her what she exactly wants you to do.

Bobby: Ok. This is good. I'll try it. Also, I want to read on communication problems of men with women.

Mike: Work on your emotional intelligence first and foremost. Why not begin with Deborah Tannen's "You just don't Understand". Let me tell you, that book helped me.



sort out: transitive verb. To solve a problem(s) in this conversation

cats and dogs: idiom. Persons who don't get along well

damn: adjective. slang English for emphasis. Avoidable in formal conversation. "You're damn wrong." "This is damn good."

she can't reach you: She can't communicate to you what she means, feels; unable to make you understand her

marriage counsel: compound noun. Trained professional on marriage issues; a professional that offers his or her service to help married couples solve their problems

take on: idiomatic verb and prepositional verb. To take an action to meet an objective

take pains: idiom. To try very hard to do something

come a long way: idiom. To make a big improvement

rational: adjective. Logical, agreeable to reason

reason with you: prepositional verb. To discuss a matter with calm by giving reasons. To convince by giving good reasons

even-tempered: adjective made with a participle verb form. Easygoing, calm

process-oriented: adjective in the participle verb form. Inclined to focus on details, how things get done, rather than on the goal as an end in itself

goal-oriented: adjective in the participle verb form. Opposite of being process-oriented. Inclined to focus on the goal as an end in itself than in the process

compromise: intransitive verb. To arrive at a settlement by making concessions

run short: idiom. to cause to lose

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus published by John Gray, this book deals with differences of communication styles of men and women, makes recommendations for improving heterosexual couples' relationships. John Gray refers to emotional needs and values of men and women. As the title suggests, women and men are very different as the two planets suggest, Mars versus Venus, but they are ideal types the classical Roman god Mars and Venus. Gray offers that men complain about problems because they need solutions while women complain about problems because they need their problems to be acknowledged.

first and foremost: adverb. Most importantly

piss her off: idiomatic verb; slang. To upset her. Never use it in formal English!

You just don't understand! A non-fiction book written by Deborah Tannen on communication differences between men and women

emotional intelligence is a concept first coined by Psychologist Daniel Goldman. "Emotional Intelligence", explains the dynamics of how understanding of one'../my-articles/emotional-intelligence-and-business-communication-shortened.php">the article.





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