Woman@Heart

Musings on Life, Love and Lefovers

The Lingo of Love

“What do you want for Valentine’s Day?” my husband Nick asked a couple of days ago.

To the untrained ear, that might sound like a simple plea for guidance. An innocent bystander would probably say Nick was just asking how I wanted to celebrate this year’s February 14.

But husbands talk in a dialect all their own, and wives spend years translating that jargon. As an expert in Nickspeak, I knew this husband of mine was really asking: “Do you actually want me to pay $100 for roses that will die in a week? And you don’t want to go out to dinner and fight the restaurant crowds, do you?”

Somewhere hidden in between the vows — For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health — is an unspoken agreement implying that to stay on the good side of marital bliss a bride must learn to listen like a wife. In the early years of my marriage, I was a quick study. Like most resilient women I discovered that I was equal to the challenge. Mastery of the lingo didn’t come overnight, but after a bit of practice, I became an expert in this offshoot of the English language I lovingly call husbandspeak. Now my practiced ear picks up the nuances necessary to translate the words Nick says into the words Nick really means.

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The latest test of my translating talents was last Thursday morning. Nick, and his recently acquired an iPhone, were at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee together. Meanwhile, I was in our bedroom, getting ready for the day. Off in the distance I heard a familiar voice call out: “My cell phone is on Casablanca time.”

At first I couldn’t tell if he was bragging or complaining. Then my mind switched from what-should-I-wear-today mode into wife-figuring-out-husbandspeak mode. I realize that this innocent-sounding statement was a thinly disguised call for my help. Nick was really saying: “Help me fix this. Can you change my phone back to Pacific Standard Time?”

He was seeking assistance from me. Me, the woman who had a digital camera for a year before she opened the box. (I didn’t trust my photos to a camera that didn’t have a place to put a roll of 35mm film.) I no more know how to change a cell phone setting from Casablanca time to California time than I know how to write a symphony or set up a GoFundMe account. For a moment I thought that he confused me with our son, Seth. But, alas no. He was enlisting me, his life partner, to come to his aid. After a half-hour of banter that included — “push the thingamajig,” “scroll down to settings,” and “how do I scroll down to settings?” — this technologically impaired couple achieved victory.

It’s not so bad becoming a linguist when you love your husband. In fact, if you keep a positive attitude, you can make a game out of translating. It’s a chance to solve a mystery. The way I see it, if I was an expert at pig Latin in fifth grade I must have enough brain cells to understand my guy most of the time.

Cracking the code is key to keeping the lines of marital communication working smoothly. I think most women would agree. I know my friends do. And with all that we’ve learned about this special language over the years, we could probably teach a course for Berlitz.

Here’s my contribution to that collective brain trust, a few common phrases to jot down in your own Husbandspeak 101 primer.

Question: “Honey, what did we get Paul for his birthday?”
Translation: “I hope you remembered that it’s my brother’s birthday tomorrow and that you bought a gift and a card and it’s all wrapped up and ready to go.”

Question:  “Claire, have you seen the remote?
Meaning: “Why are we watching the Hallmark Channel when there’s a playoff game on ESPN?

Comment: “I have to take the car into the mechanic.”
Request: “Can you follow me down to the repair shop, so I don’t have to wait around for them to drive me home?”

Question: Did you buy any jalepeno-stuffed olives?
Plea: I can’t find the jalepeno-stuffed olives.

Question: “What’s for dinner?
Translation: “What’s for dinner? (Occasionally husbands do say what they mean.)

Since I have a lot of in-the-marriage training, I was very careful how I answered Nick’s Valentine’s Day question. My reply was honest and direct: “Honey, you don’t have to buy me anything. I know that you love me,” I saidcheerfully, kissing his cheek. “Don’t go to any trouble.”

I’m hoping he translated my words into: “You better not come home without flowers, chocolates and a card. And if you think I’m cooking dinner, you must be out of your mind.”

Lucky for me Nick is fluent in Clairespeak.

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One thought on “The Lingo of Love

  1. Carol Schoenherr on said:

    Love it!

    Like

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