Recent psychological research has revealed that there is a vast difference in
styles of communication between men and women. The great differences in how men
and women communicate, very popular in recent research, was recognized by our
Sages long ago. The Talmud describes women as ahm bifneim atzmo", a
nation of their own (Shabbos 62a), with their own customs,
traditions and language.
Mishlei (Proverbs) teaches, Mavess
vechaim byad lashon". The tongue has the power of life and death
(Proverbs 18:21). Unfortunately, pain, frustration and misunderstanding are
prevalent among people who could have avoided or limited these feelings, had
they only understood the basic differences between how men and women express
In fact, many well-meaning, wise, educated couples discover that
routine, everyday situations can become complicated if inherent gender
differences arent understood. Despite common goals, a shared address, and many
years of marriage, because men and women communicate differently,
miscommunication often causes problems. Ignoring this fact doesnt solve
anything. We hope the following ideas will.
1. Understand the fundamental differences between how men
and women communicate. With an awareness of how men and women feel and think
differently, we are freed from the tendency to invest energy in attempting to
change our spouses. When we realize that there was usually no intent to hurt, no
davka involved, it also makes misunderstandings more tolerable. Being
aware of the differences also helps people accept each other in a non-critical
manner, and may allow them to work with their spouses instead of against
Ignoring differences only creates more confusion and frustration. The human
brain is divided into the left side, which controls language skills, and the
right side, which controls spatial and problem-solving skills. Research has
proven that men and women use their brains differently. Generally, women tend to
use both sides of their brains simultaneously, while at any given time men use
either one side or the other. This explains why men feel irritated when women
talk to them when they are attempting to figure out how to assemble something.
It also sheds light on the fact that a man must think about feelings before he
can discuss them, while a woman can feel, talk and think at the same time.
The Talmud alludes to the feminine capability when describing womens
capacity to more from one activity or idea to another with more ease than men
(Shabbos 33b, Kiddushin 80b). It is precisely this mental
agility which allows women to successfully juggle various family/household/job
This unique feminine flexibility should be harnessed to help both spouses
accept the fact that men and women think, behave and communicate differently.
When they adjust their expectations to this reality, they will greatly improve
2. Dont tell your spouse, You dont understand. Being
convinced of the genuine differences between men and women helps women expect
inevitable misunderstandings. Yet, sometimes, emphasizing these differences can
cause problems. When a wife wants her husband to understand what she genuinely
needs, she should avoid telling him that he doesnt understand, even when she
truly means it, because this phrase is perceived by men as accusatory, and is
therefore difficult for them to hear.
Instead of using these words, try the more tentative, Let me try saying that
in a different way. When a man hears this alternative phrase, it also conveys
the message that he hasnt fully understood her, but in a non-critical manner.
He doesnt feel criticized, and as a result he is much more willing to listen
and reconsider what she is saying.
Wives dont appreciate hearing accusatory words either, so it makes sense for
husbands to utilize this same technique.
Making this minor, yet significant, change will foster better understanding
and cooperation instead of hostility and disappointment.
3. Learn to ask for what you want. Women dont find it easy
to ask for things. A woman often feels that if she has to ask for something, it
is a sign that she is not truly loved, that her husband is not sensitive to her
needs. This weakens her self-esteem and threatens the stability of the marriage
Instead of directly asking for things, women use other forms of
communication. They hint about their needs. They ask their husband for his
opinion about an issue instead of taking the initiative and openly stating their
ideas and thoughts. They are vague about what is bothering them rather than
openly discussing the issue. All these feminine tactics leave men feelings
manipulated and angry.
Learning how to ask for what you want, and how to express yourself clearly
and directly, will enhance your relationship with your husband, will minimize
your use of irritating methods of communication, and will greatly improve your
chances of getting what you need.