Communication Breakdown (Part 4): What’s on Your Mind?

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From Glamour magazine, “11 Things Guys Just Don’t Understand About Women,” it seems that the biggest beef men have with women is that they can’t understand our style of communication. Seriously, six of the eleven things were about communication!

Men and women have very different styles of communication. I know, newsflash, right? Let me break it down and offer some tips to improve communication between the sexes. There are five major differences in communication between men and women, in my personal experience. 

This is the fourth in a series of five. “What’s on your mind?” When a woman asks a man that and he says, “Nothing,” she doesn’t believe him. So she makes up all kinds of stories, or sulks that he doesn’t trust her enough to share his deepest thoughts with her. It’s inconceivable to a woman that her man might actually be thinking about nothing, or at least nothing significant. 

Listen up ladies, they’re telling the truth! Our brains are programmed differently than men’s brains. We’re wired to multi-task, they’re not. That’s true for our thoughts as well. We tend to have ten or twelve tracks of thought happening at any one time. They’ll have one. Their brains are more linear than ours (again, a generalization, but a good one). This doesn’t mean they’re simple, just focused. 

It took me years before I finally believed my husband about this. This doesn’t mean they’re incapable of deep thought, but if they’re engaged in a line of deep thought, that’s all they’ll be doing. If your guy has just come home from work and flopped onto the couch, he’s likely “dumping” all thoughts of work and clearing his mind. It’s kind of like a computer—the memory gets full and you have to delete the old files before you can work on new ones; whereas a woman’s mind is more like a network computer. She can go out into the ethers and store files, all while still engaging in a conversation, making dinner, and keeping track of the kids. 

A perfect example of this occurred between my husband and me just the other day. We were sitting at a lakeside restaurant, having a drink. We had just been talking about marriage and divorce. I’ve been trying to convince him that we should get a divorce … unsuccessfully. I love him deeply; I’m just not that fond of being married. He knows it has nothing to do with our love for each other, so we were having a really good discussion about it. There was a lull in the conversation, and I noticed he was staring down into the lake. I asked him what he was thinking about, and he replied, “Fish.” I looked down, and sure enough, there was a school of fish! I believed him, but there was a time earlier in our relationship when I wouldn’t have. I would have been worried about what he was “really” thinking; had I somehow upset him? Was he angry at me for bringing up the subject again? 

My advice: next time you ask your partner what he’s thinking, be prepared to believe him.


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