Men are from Mars and women are from Venus … right?
We disagree. We’re all speaking English; we’re just speaking in different dialects. But, because the differences can be so vast, it may feel like two different languages. The trick is to embrace each other’s dialect and resist any urge toclassify any of the differences as deficiencies. Both approaches to the expression of English are equally valid, and neither should be altered. They should be allowed to stay in their purest form.
For instance, if a husband recognizes that his wife requires much more detail than he would normally share, he should be patient in learning how to do so. And if a wife recognizes that her husband needs short, bottom-line information, she should also be patient in learning to do so. Of course, these are stereotypical examples and your situation could be different, so be sure to tailor your approach to your spouse’s needs.
While studying abroad in Mexico, I learned a strategy that may prove to be very effective in learning a new language. I had a friend who was trying to learn English while I was trying to learn Spanish. I would speak to them in Spanish and they would respond in English to see if we understood each other. We would then switch languages in order to ensure that we could hear and speak each language properly. This is how to approach learning to communicate with your spouse. I’ve been learning to speak “Melissa” (my wife) this way for seven years.
This Valentine’s Day, I had an opportunity to practice my “Melissa.” It was Melissa’s turn to plan our holiday and typically, the activity planned is the gift to both of us, but I decided I would still give her a gift. I went to the store and purchased some candy — her favorite. I decided it would be cool to take all of the candy out of the wrappers and dump them into the bag. This way Melissa could just sit back and enjoy the candy without having to wrestle with the wrappers (I am so considerate).
I surprised Melissa with the bag of candy and she loved it. Shortly after, it was time to explain to her the story behind the bag of candy. I had two choices: I could speak to her in “Joel” or speak to her in “Melissa.” If I spoke to her in Joel I would say, “I bought you some candy because you like candy and I was going to give you some flowers but that didn’t work out (due to our budget at the time).” That would be too easy, and I’d just be being lazy if I did that. So, instead, I chose to speak in “Melissa.” I gave her a very detailed version of the story and she loved every detail. She appreciated the idea that I took the candy out of the wrapper just for her and she was relieved that I didn’t collect any flowers and overspend — but she thought the gesture was nice.
Though this was a fruitful exercise, Melissa and I are not yet fluent in each other’s languages. We often regress to our native tongues. But, every time we choose to speak in our second tongue, it’s exciting and it draws us closer to each other. We find ourselves and each other in the translation. I leave you with this quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goeth: “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”
My name is Joel Pearson. I am in love with Jesus, my wife Melissa and my son Josiah. Everything I do is for them. I am currently an academic advisor for the University of Houston, but I am walking with God on my path to becoming a pastor. God’s plan for my life is to influence everyone to follow Jesus. I especially have a heart for marriage. God has blessed me with the most wonderful woman in the world and I want others to have that same joy. I want to show everyone how to be married God’s way.