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!

  • http://fatherhoodfactor.com/ Keagan Pearson

    Oh boy…the age old concern for men everywhere!

    Although I don’t confess to be anywhere near figuring this out, I would say that the more I study my wife’s likes and dislikes…and really begin to care for them, I do much better in these situations.

    It is a treacherous road at times, but what marriage isn’t?

    Thanks for the post Bruce!

  • http://womeninbusinessradio.com Michele Price

    Here is what I know this is a two way street.  I learned about all the mistakes I made after participating in a series of workshops on communication between the sexes.  If I had to do it all over again I would make it a requirement for all couples before the got married.

    Enough playing games, guessing and figuring things out.  Check it out Allison Armstrong http://understandmen.com/

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I love Allison Armstrong, Michele…yes, enough guessing, let’s just COMMUNICATE!

  • http://twitter.com/BetsyKCross Betsy Cross

    We have to keep you on your toes! Spice it up!
    Seriously though, I think we all should get married because we’ve found someone that we trust with our deepest thoughts and emotions but live for the fun of it.It’s important to stop relying so much on being heard and understood by our spouses. It’s so much easier to have girlfriends that I can laugh and cry with because most of the time I’m going through moods because of hormones or stupid unsolvable stuff that they can relate to. They hit me over the head, we laugh, and they send me on my way a calmer and better companion.That’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. When it’s good it’s good, when it’s bad you need a time share! LOL!
    Maybe a marriage sabbatical is in order. You know? Every 7 days, weeks, months, or years you get that amount of time off. You choose what you need. But you have to go out into the wilderness by yourself. My husband would probably opt for the month plan cause our kids are little.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I love that idea…of a marriage sabbatical – but I guess I already get it ’cause I go skiing without my wife several times a season…but, I wish she had more girlfriends to really talk to…she has some, but not that many. It changed when she got married much as it does for most men and women. I’m in the wilderness now, Betsy, literally in the wilds of British Columbia…see the current #DadChat post and see!

  • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

    You always pick the ideal comics to go along with the topic, Bruce. Amazing how both sides will subtly reach out when we know we’ve been snippy, but don’t quite want to apologize for it. Yeah, I’m usually the one that got snippy, though…and I stink at apologizing 😉 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Apologizing is easy, BV…and wins you points. Now remember, however, that no matter what you do, you only get ONE point (with your woman) whether you buy her a new car or bring her a single rose. We men think the amount of money we spend should “count” but our women don’t do math that way!

      • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

        Right, so shower them with lots of little gifts and attention – vs vacuum cleaners and fitness memberships 😉

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          You got it, BV!

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  • http://chopperpapa.com Kyle Bradford

    Bruce, that is the age old question. I don’t foresee it being answered in this lifetime. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I agree Kyle and, frankly, if it were answered we’d lose half the fun!

  • Kimberly Goodall

    I am guilty of this mind reading thing, too. After 14 years of marriage, I often assume that my husband should know what I’m thinking. However, after a meltdown this Valentine’s Day I realized that it’s my responsibility to make my expectations and desires known to my husband – no matter how long we’ve been married. If I don’t, then I’m partly to blame when they aren’t met.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Good for you, Kimberly! Now, will you please speak to my wife!

  • Mitch

    Ok my name is Mitch and i can really read my wife mine…like with if she wants or needs or thinks of i know with out her telling me…same with my little boy…she would be in the other room thinking she is thirsty then i am in a different room gettin a wired feeling and think of her and that’s she is thirsty that’s y i came to this site….it dose not scare me bit makes me wonder some times that’s all..i just wanted some one to listen to me thanks Bruce

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You’re a lucky man @disqus_1YlJiBdiW0:disqus