Inside One Man’s Head… from Kyle Hargrove

Alex and Blake had spent most of the day deer hunting, deep in the woods, and after a long, unfruitful hunt, were conversing in the semi-darkness around the campfire.

Alex asked, “Blake, do you ever wonder why women take everything we say so personally?”

Blake replied, “Yep, I do.”

Alex then said, “Yesterday was her birthday. I have been listening to her for weeks picking out clues for a gift. Got her a set of bathroom scales ’cause she had mentioned that she would like a new one. Shoot, now she won’t even talk to me.”

Blake digested Alex’s comment for a few moments, then replied, “Good. Glad I’m not the only one. Thanks for the good word.”

And there you have it.

Effective, efficient, and productive. Just like most conversations held by men. Short, and to the point. Yessirree Bob, we don’t waste time, energy, or gray matter when we engage in a conversation to tackle an important problem like the one portrayed above.

So it’s probably not a news flash to you, the wonderful women that complement and round out the incompleteness that we are, that not only do we not always communicate the way you do, we also do not possess the wisdom to comprehend various dynamics that most of you pose to us. Please know I’m not trying to criticize anyone, but am just trying to be real and transparent, so that we might better deepen our relationships, and become more of the Godly husbands we so desire to be!

To better explain this common conundrum, in a recent Realtime poll of male respondents, the personalization of relatively trivial statements or actions (on our part, of course) :) often leaves us at a loss for further statements . . . or actions.

What is even more befuddling to us, is that when it is clear that one of you have taken personal offense to what we think makes perfect sense, the resulting inaction is total silence.

You know, the silent treatment. Being frozen out. Nonverbal communication (very chilly and unfuzzy ) rather than the verbal kind that makes a whole lotta sense to us!

kyle photo

If there are words spoken by you, our brides, they often resemble something like, “If you can’t figure out why I’m upset, then there is no point in discussing it.” Then as our pea-sized brains begin to process what was just told to us, panic and frustration begin to set in, and you might then see us, arms bent upward, palms facing the sky, with an are you kidding me? expression on our faces. Sometimes we truly are at a loss!

See, we really are a different breed than you. Not necessarily a different species, but more like people from a different country. We resemble one another physically (somewhat), but speak totally foreign languages, and lack some of the cultural understanding of the other.

Want to know how we view ourselves? Thought you’d never ask :p

We, the men in your lives, are fixers. We are plumbers, hunters, electricians, carpenters, and protectors of the things that go bump, clang, honk-honk, rattle-rattle, or beep-beep in the night. Someone has to go through us to get to you or our families. And if they dare try, they had better be ready for a fight! For we are fighters too. We fight all that is evil in the world in order to make it a better place for you. Yes, we are the ones willing to swim the highest oceans, and climb the deepest seas to ensure that you are not only aware of our total dedication to you, but as well, our undying commitment to those that we love.

Yes? Maybe? Hopefully? OK, maybe that description is not all that realistic all of the time, but it’s what we want to be to you. And in those moments of utter helplessness, when we know we must have done something really stupid, but can’t connect the dots, we are likely to throw our hands up in frustration, or just simply walk away. Truthfully, that is probably more in an effort to avoid escalating the issue, rather than completely giving up on it. Or you.

So when we find ourselves in situations we can’t fix, and feel completely stalled out in our journey to be The Man, – God’s Man, we step out of our box of comfort, and ask you humbly:

Why IS it that women seem to take relatively “impersonal” comments or actions personally?

And, how might we go about improving our communication with you when this DOES happen?

We gallantly await your reply!!!

It is OUR hope that we ALL . . .

FINISH WELL!

Kyle

Today’s post is from an online friend of mine, Kyle Hargrove.

Kyle Hargrove is a Licensed Professional Counselor/Supervisor located in Fort Worth, Texas. He has been in private practice for almost 20 years, and is the owner/operator of Freedom Texas Coaching and Counseling. Kyle is a licensed and ordained minister, writer, and has spoken at family and men’s conferences from coast to coast. He is the founder of Stonegate Center, a 90-Day Residential Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in the Fort Worth area.

But the thing he says about himself that impresses me the most?

“There’s really not much that’s all that special about me . . .”

You’ve heard me say that too, and I don’t know whether it is original, or just a cohesive thought many believers have about themselves – or whether I stole it from Kyle… :) But when he says it, he means it the same way I do – that we’re imperfect, sinful, but members of an awesome family and our Dad is the King.  So I’d encourage you to interact with him here or over at his blog, RealTime.  He’ll be checking in throughout the day to dialogue with you about the above question!

Love to you,

~Nina

Comments

  1. says

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the guy who is obliviously in his head working out why his motorcycle doesn’t sound quite right, leaving his wife thinking she’s done something wrong or is getting the silent treatment for three days has been stepping on his wifes air hose a bit. Because we need personal interaction and affection, sometimes the tendency to take the impersonal person is a need to take SOMETHING personally.

    The whole “no news is good news” thing doesn’t apply with women. If you’re not periodically checking in emotionally, then by the time you remember, she’s spring loaded. She’s got three days worth of trivial stuff she would have shared, vented about and moved on had you not been busy working out how to build the fence/ fix the car/ get that bid in on time and pacing the garage, but it got back burner-ed in the name of being a help meet and the generosity has had time to get a little stale – but to point this out is to be ungrateful for all that a husband does. Hey babe, I know you’ve spent the last 10 hours out in the sun and the dirt and the sawdust building someone a fence, and you’re dirty and hungry but my back’s just not right at the moment and I’ve got a headache and even though I’m going to be a skeptic to everything you have to say right now, I need you to say SOMETHING. Talk about something. Something I like. Otherwise I’m tossing a couple frozen burritos in the lunch bag tomorrow cause I just don’t have it in me. Oh look. You’re not talking. What’s up with that. You had plenty to say to the client when he just called while we were waiting for you so we could eat. I wish I could say arguments are logical. Often they’re not.

    I can see in this example I’m totally wrong. I know I’m wrong when I do it, but somehow hope the result will be less than wrong. What refuses to hear wrong is the “neglected and for granted” voice and it’s screaming. It also has its fingers in it’s ears if that helps with the mental image. It’s looking for a way around the fences to bite your butt.

    You know the joke about the difference between a dog and your wife? (Lock your dog and your wife in the car. Who’s still happy to see you when you come back?) Yeah. We’re subject to a sort of emotional entropy. All those neatly tied ends and ham sandwiches with both lettuce and tomato on Monday have wiggled loose to peanut butter and jelly by Thursday. You don’t want to see what Fridays lunch is gonna be like without some kind of quality time between now and then- you’re probably assuming it’s going to be takeout.

  2. says

    I posted the same blog on my own site today, and wanted to share with you a response from a reader, as well as my reply to her. Thought it might be an interesting point of discussion for you – Nina’s audience – and as well, an alternative point of view – AND QUITE BLUNT!!! :)

    From Carole:

    I personally think the ‘excuse’ of men being so utterly unable to understand us is way overused. Either that or I just have an exceptional husband because he knows exactly what I’m thinking most of the time. He’ll feign innocence at times but he’s a terrible liar and I can see right through him. :) That being said, I think that if a man truly is having a very difficult time reading his wife, perhaps he needs to either get to know her better by just listening to her or he may even be trying too hard and his fear of failure to understand her becomes a sort of ‘white noise’ that effectively blocks his ability to comprehend.

    But I’ll just go with…I have an exceptional husband. :)

    From Me:

    I think you may be onto something Carole. With time, there really IS no excuse for us to not “read” our wives unless we’re not trying, or never have. That is exactly why I write Realtime. The NEED to learn honesty, openness, and transparency is there, and it takes COURAGE at times, for men, or anyone else, to do just that – especially with those who know us the best – our wives. Thanks for chiming in – it’s great to hear from you!

  3. says

    Here are my two cents worth (or maybe less) as a wife of 25 years who has only recently started working on this respect thing –

    Q: Why IS it that women seem to take relatively “impersonal” comments or actions personally?

    A: You say – and I’ve seen it proven true – that men are “fixers” by nature. Women, in my experience (and I’m generalizing) are “relaters”. Our identities are very closely tied to our relationships. We will use the way we speak to and about other people to indicate how we are feeling about them in that moment. It’s a terrible way to handle things because we are expecting our listener to pick up on subtle nuances that men don’t always hear (or interpret correctly if they do hear it!). This means that we will say things that seem impersonal to the untrained ear but are in fact VERY personal. It’s this catty, passive-aggressive stance we can take because being direct just seems rude. And yes, I know how stupid that sounds.

    In all seriousness, we take it personally because we are terrified by the thought that we never cross the mind of our beloved when he is away from us. If he makes a statement that is unintentionally hurtful, that just confirms that he has temporarily forgotten us. I know better now – it’s that “compartmentalizing” thing you men do so well. But it can feel like being forgotten.

    Q: And, how might we go about improving our communication with you when this DOES happen?

    Hubby was helped when someone shared with him that a woman’s brain is like a computer screen with 267 browser windows all open at the same time. Some are minimized, some are small, some are full-screen and some may pop open and demand her attention without warning. She can – for a time – close or minimize some of them at will. But not all of them or even most of them for very long. They WILL assert themselves again. If she is married and has children, each of those people has “browser window” all to themselves and those windows NEVER close. She may not always make the most loving, respectful choice but she is at least aware of her family members and how they are likely to react.

    If we get hurt by something, seek to clarify – what exactly was it about the statement that hurt us? She may even know that she is overreacting but if you get angry or frustrated, that just escalates the situation for everyone! Maybe further explanation is warranted. Men have this amazing skill (and I mean that very sincerely) for using few words to explain themselves. But that sometimes means that we don’t hear the back story or the thought process that you went through before making the statement. Above all, PATIENT discussion is needed even when we are being emotional drama queens. It will calm the situation faster than anything!

    On a personal note – there are times that I react strongly to a statement and I know full well that I’m being ridiculous, If I take two seconds to stop and evaluate, my reaction is usually a symptom of a lack of connection between hubby and I. I am a “quality time” person and need regular chunks of time – and the occasional “big date” to feel connected to my man. Innocent – or “impersonal” statements are liable to hurt more when I already feel a break in the connection. I’m not seeking to blame anyone or hold my hubby solely responsible for the connection time happening or not happening. But feeling like I’m already separated from him just sets me up to take things personally that were NEVER meant that way!

    • says

      Jennifer earlier commented about women “being insecure in the relationship.” It seems your comments are mirroring her thoughts as well. And THAT is one of the biggest things we just can’t figure out! I’m reminded of the elderly woman that continually told her husband, “You never tell me you love me!” And he continually replied, “I told you when I married you that I love you. If I change my mind I’ll let you know!”

      Although that is a humorous antidote, it does reflect that need women seem to have more of a need to be consistently and readily affirmed than do men. YOU were transparent about “being ridiculous” at times, and I’ll be that way and say, I have a strong need for affirmation. Does that make me a woman???? :)

      So for men like me, it’s easy to be reminded that affirmation needs to be a constant, and realizing Debbi and I are “in that spot” again, I can usually tap the brakes and engage a little deeper. That allows for her to have the opportunity to more carefully explain what she feels that I might not understand. Now that’s just ONE area where I do pretty well as a husband – in that way I’m the exception to the male rule. But in most others, I can stink it up with the best of them . . . and often do . . .:)

      I think I’m going to take your comment, “seek to clarify” and write a blog on just that. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your taking the time to be so eloquent with both your thoughts and your experiences.

      AND FINISH WELL!

  4. Sab :) says

    Q: Why IS it that women seem to take relatively “impersonal” comments or actions personally?

    Q: And, how might we go about improving our communication with you when this DOES happen?

    A: If coming from our spouse, at least for me, I really value and hold a heavier weight to his opinion about me. It matters more to me what he thinks of me than a stranger. I can brush off what a stranger thinks, but my husband? I think, “So that’s what you think about me?” We don’t just look at comments or actions at face value. I think it’s because when we do something, ie give a gift, we thihnk it through and attach a reason to why we would give it. There is meaning behind my action. We believe there is a meaning, or a message, if you will, behind your actions too.

    It’s a good idea to read your wife’s non-verbal responses/cues during interactions with her. Did she completely deflate when I said that/gave her that gift? Did you see her spirit just melt or collapse? Her happy demeanor instantly disappear? If you did see this, pause, ask her if she feels this way and apologize and take note on what “ticks her off” and what makes her tick.

    • says

      Great Questions Sab! AND answers! Just remember that to hold the same expectation of a man that you, as a woman have, is not always productive. But as couples bond further as the years go by, they “ought” to, if they are working at it, learn more of the ways one another responds and try to mirror it in their own mind. But it IS a never-ending challenge, and the sooner we realize that, and keep our nose to the grindstone, the sooner we’ll see better results. Thanks for chiming in!

  5. says

    Trixie, the center of your hammer has found the nail – SQUARELY!! And that “surprise” can come for a variety of reasons. That’s why in premarital counseling, 50% of our material covered is found in the area of communicating, and being willing to work hard at it, even sometimes taking perceived risks. It’s not much different in marital counseling either! But what warms me the most in your comments, is that you acknowledge that intimacy cannot – PERIOD – be created or sustained by only one person, or by that person “most of the time.” That desire to be “known” in a woman’s deepest places, can’t be achieved without a man being intentional about paying closer attention, and responding when you “call.” :) Awesome!

  6. says

    Women are “over sensitive” because they don’t feel secure in the relationship. One of the ways we don’t feel secure is when we tell (and tell again) what our need is and it goes unmet.
    Have you ever thought that my sacrifice to give myself freely in a sexual way can be as hard as you giving yourself freely emotionally?
    “Here hon, meet my need and enjoy it.” Then, “I don’t know how to be intimate other than sex.” (hint: it might take more time and effort than sex)
    Years of unbalance on either side takes its toll.

    • says

      Jennifer, I could’t agree with you more! Meeting those needs that have been communicated – often in more than one way, is something we HAVE to get better at! And those needs that HAVE been communicated, I honestly don’t think confuse us much at all . . . which means as well, that we should be striving to be more intentional. The part, I’m pretty sure, that befuddles us more than not, is when we feel that we have INDEED “stepped up,” or done something even juuust a little beyond the call of duty, and it is not received like WE would receive it. Adding to our puzzlement is that whatever we DID do, is sometimes batted back to us as a personal affront, and it would not have been one to us. “Different languages, different cultures.” :)

      • says

        Hubby and I have run into the communication issue when it comes to gifts – I used to want to be subtle about things and have him pick up on gift ideas. It usually didn’t work and left me holding a gift wondering what on earth he was thinking when bought it! I remember once being on a window shopping trip with hubby and going on and on (and on and on!) about a particular item I saw. He pointed out something else to me and I said, “Yeah, that’s cute” and then went back to gushing over the item I had seen. Guess which one he bought me for Christmas that year – the one he pointed out. I didn’t remember seeing it before that moment. When he jogged my memory, he told me that I had said it was cute. Later, I had the chance to calmly chat with him and ask him why he got me the item I made one comment about instead of the one I had gone nuts over. He smiled a little sheepishly and said, “Because I pointed this one out to you.” I understood a WHOLE lot better at that moment – he found something I thought was cute which meant he was catching on to the trick of shopping for me. The good news is my honey is a gift giving pro now – I cannot remember the last time I got a gift I didn’t absolutely LOVE.

  7. trixie1466 says

    I think part of the issue is that we feel known when you recognize that what may be impersonal to you is very personal to us. The fact that a husband is surprised by how something “impersonal” hurt his wife’s feelings demonstrates that he doesn’t know her the way she longs to be known.

    I do believe the response “if you don’t know then I won’t tell you” is as immature as it is unhelpful, but I believe it stems from that desire to be known. To be known and accepted is a not unique to women. Isn’t that at the heart of why men want their wives to be sexually responsive?

    This kind of intimacy takes both a husband and a wife actively working to attain. :)

    Thanks for your viewpoint!

    Trixie

    • TC says

      Trixie , that is certainly part o the equation, as far as desiring sexual response from our wives. I feel most connected to my wife, after sex. However, as a man, I see my wife’s sexual desire for me, as an absolute indication of her level of respect, and by default, how well I’m doing as a husband.In other words, if she has no desire for intimacy, it’s because she doesn’t really respect me, and it’s my fault. Hope that makes sense.

    • says

      Trixie, the center of your hammer has found the nail – SQUARELY!! And that “surprise” can come for a variety of reasons. That’s why in premarital counseling, 50% of our material covered is found in the area of communicating, and being willing to work hard at it, even sometimes taking perceived risks. It’s not much different in marital counseling either! But what warms me the most in your comments, is that you acknowledge that intimacy cannot – PERIOD – be created or sustained by only one person, or by that person “most of the time.” That desire to be “known” in a woman’s deepest places, can’t be achieved without a man being intentional about paying closer attention, and responding when you “call.” :) Awesome!

Got thoughts?