Deborah Tannen's article stood out from the others this week because it seemed to describe every misunderstanding between men and women I have ever experienced. Reading it was like reading a script of my parents conversations and now my own marriage. Just the other night, my wife basically said "after all this time, you should know what I want without my telling you". I could not believe what I was hearing! I knew her whole argument was flawed because I was convinced of the logic of my position and the illogic of hers. Then I read Tannen's article and saw a replay of our conversation.
It is amazing to realize how such small differences in the way men and women approach talking and what they expect out of a conversation can quickly escalate into arguments and hurt feelings. Now I know the biggest source of conflict in my marriage is so called "metamessages". For example, last night, my wife said "your Toyota is probably going to be recalled", and I avoided eye contact, used a negative tone, and said "my car is fine". My wife got really mad because she read my message as "you are never right and I think you are stupid", but I was simply making a statement about the health of my car. Unfortunately, telling her that my communication flaws are the result of learning how to have conversations with boys only just further infuriated her. Needless to say, I will be rereading this article.