Learning how to communicate effectively is a precious ability that proves useful in both the personal and professional arenas. Personally, I feel I have done a fine job in both areas, but there is always room for improvement. Judging by a brilliant blog post I read this past weekend (written by my wife), I have a little bit to learn about the difference between how men and women communicate. Actually, to be more accurate, I should say I have a bit to learn when I am on an intelligence gathering mission for a woman...because their need-to-know doesn't necessarily match what a man wants to know.
In honor of my wife's well documented reputation for clarifying things, I am going to clarify one thing right now. I am in no way offended by her rendition of the conversation you are about to read. In fact, I think she probably toned it down for me. I am very much a guy, who asks guy questions when talking to other guys. Not necessarily the best choice for a recon mission when you're expecting answers to girl questions.
Friends of ours' recently announced that they are expecting with a due date this Spring. It's a little more exciting because this will be their first child. If you care to read my wife's insights (which I would encourage since this post is called "she said-he said"), you can find it at: Sarah Simplified: Analyze This....and Then Grab a Brownie For those of you who just want the gist of it, here's the quick breakdown of my report to my wife (in her words) following my quick congratulatory conversation with the soon-to-be first time dad:
Me: When is she due?
Jesse: Sometime in March.
Me: How has she been feeling so far? Has she had any morning sickness?
Jesse: no response....looks at me with a blank look and shrugs...
Me: Has she figured out who her OB doctor will be?
Jesse: more silence....another shrug
Ok, so I am guilty of not asking all the girl questions. I could substitute her questions above for the questions she asked me when I told her they were getting married last year:
Sarah: Have they set the wedding date?
Me: I don't know.
Sarah: What does her ring look like?
Me: [shrug]... I didn't notice.
Sarah: Has she picked out a dress yet?
Me: For what? Oh. The wedding? I don't know.
You send a guy to get answers to girl questions and that's what you'll usually get. At first I thought she nailed it on the head with her insight, but then I realized that I'm not necessarily as guilty as it looks. Although I didn't really ask specific questions, I did gather the information that I found important to me as a guy. To be honest, if I had asked the questions my wife asked me, I probably wouldn't have know what the answer meant. For instance, if I heard she threw up three times per week, is that a lot? Is that mild? Is that completely normal? Or even if I were to get the OB's name identified, would it mean anything to me? Nope.
I got everything I needed to know by asking the soon-to-be dad, "How are you doing?" Between his six word response and a shrug, I knew most of what I needed to know. I know as a first time dad (because I did that once) that there is a wide range of emotions flowing over you. (Don't tell anyone I used the word "emotions" in my blog.) Knowing you're going to be a dad makes you do a lot of soul searching. (At least it should if you have a chance of being a good father.) You end up asking yourself questions like:
Do I have any idea how to be a father?
Will I be a good father?
Will I be able to support my family?
How am I going to balance my time between my wife and child?
Are diapers really that hard to change?
What all do we need to get for the baby?
What room will be the nursery?
Is it cool/warm enough in that room?
Will I have to do any remodeling?
What's my name?
Where am I?
I feel I gathered the answers to all those questions with my four word question and his six word answer. Well, maybe not all of them, but I could make an educated guess an the nursery. The point is, a guy has different concerns, joys and fears than a woman has. Most of them will be very similar, but seen from a different perspective. A mom-to be might be a apprehensive about the pains of childbirth...but I can almost guarantee you that the dad-to-be is worried about his wife and child being ok throughout the delivery.
To wrap this up, I should point out that there was no hugging involved. My wife's post mentioned that with a girl conversation there would have been congratulations, a hug and then conversation. Since I am here to help you navigate through the jungle of life, I will leave you with this pearl of wisdom regarding guys hugging:
I don't remember if it was the stand-up comedy of Tim Allen or Jeff Foxworthy where I first heard this explained, so I'll just hope that they don't read this and sue me for failing to give proper credit. On the rare occurrence that two men are going to hug, you will see them manning it up a bit. A guy hug will usually involve some hard slaps on the back. To quote the appropriate comedian above, "You're hugging....but you're also hitting." Remember this if you ever find yourself in a situation where a "man hug" is necessary. Until next time...