- The L/R Dynamic
- Blue and Pink Glasses
- Putting It All Together
Last week we discussed the core principles of the Love & Respect dynamic and what both men and women need most from their spouse, men needing primarily respect from their wives and wives needing primarily love from their husbands.
We also introduced the Crazy Cycle and how it feeds into itself until a marriage becomes a horrific mess.
Today, we are going to discuss what is arguably the primary reason for disputes in a marriage involving two well-meaning people: The breakdown of communication.Now when I say there’s a breakdown of communication, I’m not referring to men needing to let forth a gushy torrent of emotion to their wives. Rather, what I’m talking about more closely aligns with the “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” principle. Men and women have completely different languages that coincidently consists of the exact same words. You can probably imagine how this could lead to some problems within a marriage.
As I see it, men typically communicate from a more utilitarian perspective. What we say it usually what we mean. Women, however, don’t follow this rule and will often say one thing, but mean something else entirely.
For example, let’s translate what men and women actually mean when they say “I have nothing to wear.”
- Men (translated): “I have nothing clean to wear.”
- Women (translated): “I have nothing new to wear.”
Another, more comical, example is the expression “I’m fine.”
- Men (translated): “I’m fine.”
- Women (translated): “I’m not fine, but I’m going to tell you that I am while I skulk around the house giving you death stares until you finally get what I’m so pissed about!”
While the translations for each sex can go on and on, the key principle you need to understand is that men and women view the world and communicate from perspectives that are alien to each other.
The author of the book Love & Respect calls this the blue and pink glasses phenomenon and expands it to include blue and pink megaphones as well as hearing aids. Men see, hear, and speak from a blue perspective while women see, hear, and speak from a pink perspective.
When a man says or does something, it’s coming from a blue perspective, but the woman is going to interpret it from a pink perspective. The same also works in reverse. This doesn’t mean you can’t learn to interpret and speak the “foreign language,” but it requires a good deal of effort and diligence.
Let’s take the “I’m fine” response we looked at earlier and apply it to a situation that might take place in real life (I know it does, because I’ve personally experienced it):
The husband is sitting on the couch, relaxing after a long day of work. He’s tired, but not in a bad mood; just chilling. The wife, meaning well, asks him if he’s alright to which he replies with a short “I’m fine.” This immediately raises red flags for the wife because she interpreted the “I’m fine” from a pink perspective.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” she asks.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” (Oh shit, he said it again. He must be super pissed!)
(Now he’s starting to get annoyed.) “Yes…”
“Are you mad at me?”
“I’m getting there!”
And they’re off to the races! All over a simple breakdown of communication. As your marriage goes on, you’ll begin to naturally learn some of the ways your wife communicates to you that seem counter intuitive and she will learn some of the basics with you as well. That being said, the individual’s “native tongue (blue/pink)” will always have first crack at any attempts to communicate with their spouse, be it verbal or expressive, and if they aren’t diligently monitoring their own thoughts to make sure they’re interpreting what is actually being said, a simple phrase or joke could come across as a scathing insult.
Men, if you decide to work on this series with your wife, I highly suggest you sit down with here and have a heart-to-heart regarding what we’re discussing here. Better yet, buy the book and read through it with her. There’s a LOT that I’m not covering here that’s in the book. Talk to her and agree to give each other the benefit of the doubt when it comes to potentially loaded or insulting phrases.
If something comes up, instead of immediately resorting to anger and hostility, ask them point blank “That came across as disrespectful(men)/unloving(women). Did you actually intend it to come across that way?”
Yes, this does sound a bit corny, but opening up this way accomplishes a few things.
First, it opens a line of honest communication. You’re putting yourself out there to determine if there’s a problem and if so, are willing to work through it.
Second, It allows you to begin understanding your spouse’s “language” and determine when they are being intentionally malicious towards you and when you are simply misinterpreting their meaning.
Finally, it provides feedback for your spouse. Your wife might not even realize something she does or says comes across as disrespectful. As you’re learning her language, she’s also learning yours. Win-win!
Now I must emphasize that this process works best if both of you are onboard. If you start asking questions like this out of the blue, your wife will probably give you a puzzled look, so sit down with her and openly discuss what was covered in Part 1 of this series (link at the top).
- Men see the world through blue tinted glasses, hear it with blue hearing aids, and speak using a blue megaphone.
- Women see the world through pink tinted glasses, hear it with pink hearing aids, and speak using a pink megaphone.
- Learning and speaking your spouse’s “native language” can help you greatly improve your marriage.