Can You Read Your Wife’s Mind

Category: Weekly Columns

Is this not one of those eternal issues between men and women? What husband hasn’t been expected to read his wife’s mind? What woman doesn’t believe that if her husband REALLY loved her, he’d know just what she wants? Have I got your attention yet?

Yesterday, I had one of those rare experiences with my wife when I think I was able to read her mind. I emphasize “rare,” but it did feel good. I was returning home from a ski trip and called her to check in. It was evident from the moment she picked up the phone that she was distracted and didn’t really want to speak right then. I didn’t get that subtle hint – I’m not THAT good – and continued trying to make small talk. She became snippy and I got a bit irritated and ended the conversation.

About two hours later, she calls and opens up with an enthusiastic, “Hi Honey.” I’m immediately confused and play along, with a “What’s up?” reply. Then, I get it! This was her way of reaching out and saying she was sorry for being snippy earlier. Of course she couldn’t just say that, so I read her mind and figured it out! Hallelujah! What a feeling! I was thrilled and continued the conversation in high spirits.

Now, I must declare that this was not a common experience for me. Usually, I get all whacked out when my wife is in a mood or I’m not figuring out exactly what I’m supposed to do. Things like choosing the perfect gift for every occasion or knowing when I should listen and not speak, or when she needs a hug. Being a man can be hard when you’re married, since my wife and I’d dare suggest, most women, really do expect us to read their minds.

For us simpletons, we don’t understand why our wives don’t just say what’s on their mind. Here’s how we’d like it to go:

Me: Honey, it’s your birthday soon. What would you like?
Honey: That’s so nice of you to ask. I’d really appreciate anything you got me, but I really do need a new vacuum cleaner.
Me: A vacuum cleaner? Really?
Honey: Yes, let’s be practical dear. I saw one on sale at Costco.
Me: Consider it done…(and I reach over and give her a kiss).

Now, this is what really went on in that fantasy conversation:

Me: Honey, it’s your birthday soon. What would you like?
Honey (in her mind): Idiot, I gave you a bunch of hints when we were at the jewelry store two months ago. Yipes, can’t you remember anything?

Okay, I’ll admit that the latter dialogue scenario was a bit benign, as my wife would probably be screaming expletives in her head, while smiling at me.

I know it’s a bit crass, but the way we men and women are built – physically – is the simple explanation for these sorts of misunderstandings. Men’s physical sexuality is simply out there, while a woman’s sexuality in more under wraps. Isn’t this the perfect metaphor for how we genders often relate to one another?

Men usually declare exactly what’s on their mind while women tend to hold it back…EXCEPT with other women! Excuse me? What good does that do us guys?

With my wife, I’ve come to understand – with hard work and therapy – some of her inner workings. And, conversely, she’s come to understand and tolerate my various eccentricities. But, it is constant work and I do naively wish we could just be up front with whatever is on our minds. But, I’m a guy and I have a “fix-it” mentality and wear my feelings on my sleeve.

Why can’t both men and women just say what’s on their minds? I just heard on a talk show – about men and women – a husband say that he was often not expressing himself to his wife because she would often hear what he said as a personal attack when it wasn’t that at all. I’m sure the same can be said woman to man, as well.

In this same show, the host declared that all most husbands want to be is a hero in their wife’s eyes and in her declarations. I can definitely say that is true for me. I would assert – and you women out there please confirm, deny, or elaborate – that most wives just want to be heard by their husbands vs. just paid scant attention while their husband is watching football.

There’s a good reason the Mars/Venus books were so successful. The relationships between men and women have been complicated since the days of Adam and Eve. For me, that’s part of the mystery, the fun, and the challenge. Now, if only my wife would just do what I say!