It’s probably happened to all of you. You’ve said something innocuous, and she’s taken it WAAAAY out of context in order to make you look like a bastard. It seems like those traps are laying everywhere. Here are a few phrases to avoid if you want to keep her happy, and prevent yourself from tasting your foot as she shoves it into your mouth.
In your mind, you are expressing concern. In her mind, you have now called attention to the fact that she has bags under her eyes, her hair isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do, and heavens forbid – she may even look a bit frumpy. Rather than telling her that she looks tired (and if she really is tired, the interpretation can be a thousand times worse), do something nice for her. Bring her favorite drink. Pick up the dishes after dinner and wash them so she doesn’t have to. Give her a back rub, or simply sit next to her and rub her leg. If she truly is tired, she’ll enjoy the low-impact affection, and she won’t question your motives. If she’s not tired, she may ask you what’s going on, but you can just respond with something like “I just felt the need to [enter what you just did] because I love you!”
You say: I like the other [insert piece of clothing] better.
She hears: You look fat in that shirt. Burn it and never wear it again.
If she’s modeling clothes for you and asking for an opinion, this is a tricky situation. Never compare clothing. Simply state your favorite. If she asks why you like it better, be honest, but ONLY talk about that ONE piece. You like the way it hugs her chest, or the way the color brings out her eyes. NEVER say one is better than the other. If she asks about the other piece, mention its good qualities too, but don’t list as many. This will take practice. Worst case, you can always go with “You look fantastic in both, but I’m in the mood to see you wear the red one today”.
You say: You got a haircut…
She hears: I hate it.
Never state the fact that she got a haircut. Tell her how wonderful her hair looks. Run your hands through it (if the cut allows) and tell her how beautiful she is. Remember, NOT noticing a haircut is just as bad as simply stating the fact that she got one. If she walks into a room doing her best impression of a bobble-head doll, she wants you to notice her haircut and make her feel beautiful.
You say: Didn’t you like the salad from this restaurant?
She hears: You better go on a diet, you fat cow.
Maybe she *did* love the salad. Maybe she told you an hour ago that she was craving a salad, and wanted to go to that one place that had the BEST salad EVER! So what’s wrong with reminding her that she liked the salad when you actually take her to that very restaurant? *Everything*
It’s okay for your wife to want a salad. It’s also okay for her to decide she wants steak and pasta with a side of ice cream as soon as she sees it on the menu. Don’t make her regret the comfort food any more than she already will. Science can’t even explain what makes women crave the things they do, when they do. Don’t try to understand it yourself. Just say “Wow, honey! That looks like an AWESOME choice!” and shut up and let her enjoy the fat, carbs, and sugar. She’ll hate herself enough for it later.
What other things does your wife misinterpret?
About the Author: Abby Dryer's goal in life is to bridge the communication gap between men and women. She finds herself giving lots of marital advice to her guy friends whose wives don’t want to have to explain *everything* to their husbands. “Women are hard to understand. I’m a woman, and *I* don’t even get us sometimes! Goodhusbanding is a great guide to help men understand their women, and hopefully communicate with a little more confidence, because that’s what works… communication!”