Woman@Heart

Musings on Life, Love and Lefovers

Archive for the tag “valentine’s day”

It’s A Guy Thing

My husband, Nick and I have lots in common. We share the same religion. We’re voting for the same candidate for president. Jeopardy and Blue Bloods are must-see TV. We parent three adult sons and spoil a beautiful granddaughter together.  For sure, he’s the man I want bringing me a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates on February 14.

But over the years, I’ve noticed that our personalities collide, a lot. Nick likes westerns. I prefer comedies. I’m a diehard Steelers’ fan. He’s Bolts all the way. My car radio is set to R&B, his to classic rock. I like cake. He’ll take pie.

Nick was born in Newark and I’m from a little town near Pittsburgh. I used to wonder if that was the root of our differences. Then I thought, maybe it’s because I’m the youngest of four and Nick is the seventh of nine. Or perhaps it’s because I have brown eyes and his are blue. But the realization of a simpler answer trumped my earlier theories — men and women are different. When I was playing with Barbies, Nick was setting up his Hot Wheels track. When he was being introduced to Barbasol, I was learning about mascara.

shutterstock_97121432About three weeks ago, our contrasting preferences became even more apparent when I invited him to go shopping at the mall. I figured that our trip would take up most of Saturday afternoon and part of the evening. Nick was planning on a 30-minute outing (travel time included).

Not only do Pinks and Blues clash when it comes to how long a shopping trip takes, we’re oceans apart about what we want to shop for. Ogling the latest in barbecue accessories or scoping out bug spray in Home Depot is Nick’s idea of the ultimate buying expedition.

For me the mark a successful mall visit is finding the perfect pair of shoes – no matter how long it takes. Before I became a wife I thought that everyone loved shoe shopping. Nick has since taught me that if you circle Male instead of Female on credit applications, you probably don’t consider footwear as a personal fashion statement.

About an hour later, from across the winter boots display, my husband sent a pained look my way. I was veering into the purse department. Of course there was a basketball (football, baseball, soccer, golf, hockey, curling, bowling) game waiting for him on TV at home  and I suspected that he’d rather be watching a 6-foot-6 dude take 3-point-shots instead of discussing the merits of pebbled leather. Or giving his opinion about which looks better, the hobo bag or the tote? What he really wanted to say is: “Don’t you have a dozen purses in the closet already? Pick one of these and let’s get home before the third quarter ends.”

Men and women are on shaky ground when it comes to problem solving too. Women understand that sometimes all you need is a listener who nods supportively and mutters “Hmmmm” at suitable intervals. Just because we pose the question, doesn’t mean we’re looking for the answer. Men, on the other hand, are programmed to fix things — here’s the problem, here’s the solution, end of story.

This is where my husband shows his royal blue streak. His problem-solution skills are right up there with some of the greatest minds of his gender — Einstein, FDR, Knute Rockne. But after this short discussion outside the dressing room, Nick won’t be so quick with the answers anymore:

“Boy, I don’t like the way these pants look,” I said modeling them for him.

“They are a little tight,” Nick observed. “How’s your diet going?”

“Slowly. Why are you asking?”

“Because you said you didn’t like the way your pants fit.  You could always do what your friend did and try liposuction.”

“I didn’t say they didn’t fit. I said I didn’t like how they looked. I don’t like this khaki color.”

“Ohhhhh, ” he sheepishly replied.

I’ll leave you to imagine the rest of conversation, but you can be sure that Nick will never again suggest liposuction to his bride. In his spare time, he’s now practicing variations of: “Claire, you look fabulous in whatever you wear.”

It’s true that I might be from Venus and sometimes Nick wishes he was on Mars, but after many years of marriage, we’re proof that opposites attract. It may be a girl thing and it might be a guy thing. But one thing’s for sure – thanks to an odd-colored pair of Capri pants, come next Valentine’s Day I’ll be getting a larger bouquet of roses. And that box of chocolates I told you about earlier, it’s certain to be a three-pounder.

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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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