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Men and Women Hear the Same Words Differently

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Excess oil.

What comes to mind when you hear these words?

Two women discussing excess oil may be concerned about their skin. Two men discussing excess oil are probably concerned with machinery or perhaps a slippery garage floor.

If you’ve been reading this blog awhile, you know I believe God created men and women to be different…and guess what? These differences affect our communication!

Male and female differences not only affect seeing; they affect hearing as well. My work with husbands and wives tells me that women hear with pink hearing aids and men hear with blue hearing aids. And perhaps even more important to understand as you and your spouse seek to gain better communication is that you two can hear the very same words, but each of you will hear different messages.

Pink and blue have different worlds which impact what words mean. When a wife hears the words, “Let’s go shopping,” she thinks, “How wonderful!” (Sarah, my wife, is an exemption to this!) When a husband hears the words, “Let’s go shopping,” he thinks, “How can I get out of this?” (I, Emerson, am not an exception to this!) Each hears a different message based on what each likes or dislikes as male or female!

Men and women are wired differently, which usually causes husband and wife to be interested in different things. And these different interests can sometimes lead to miscommunication that results in tension (i.e., the Crazy Cycle). Here’s a story that is representative of the kind I hear all the time between husbands and wives:

Michael and Tom, who work together as mechanical engineers and are the best of friends, went on a three-day hunting trip. When they returned to their homes, Tom’s conversation with his wife, Dawn, went something like this:

“How was your time with Michael?”


“What did you talk about?”

“Well, we mostly hunted…We did talk some about the infant incubator we’re designing. It could save the lives of hundreds of kids each year.”

“You mean you were out there for three days together and you never once talked about how Katelyn is feeling since becoming pregnant? It’s her first child. I can’t believe at least one of you didn’t bring it up!”

To which Tom responded blankly, “Is Katelyn pregnant?”

You can imagine what happened next! After exchanging insults about how insensitive Tom is and how judgmental Dawn is, this couple was spinning at top speed on the Crazy Cycle!

Kind of like “excess oil.” Have you been there?

Next week we’ll strategize the best ways to avoid similar situations. Remember, “Not wrong, just different!”

Excerpts taken from The Language of Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.

Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider