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Notes #53

Last week I gave you my thoughts on the differences, or lack of them, between men and woman. Here are some other opinions: See "Notes" #19, #24, and below.
"Silence Is Golden"
However, too much silence is detrimental to a relationship.

Communication in marriage is a constant exchange of information- of messages- between the two spouses by speech, talking on the telephone, texting, the exhibition of bodily or facial expressions, and other methods as well. The information may be straightforward and factual, conveyed by words (" I want coffee";" it is raining"; "here is five dollars"), or it may indicate, by tone of voice or gesture, the nature of the relationship between the parties involved. Receiving a message is not a matter of understanding spoken words alone; the rolling of one's eyes or the slamming of a door may telegraph the mood of a spouse.
                                          Lederer and Jackson

Deborah Tannen in her book, "You Just Don't Understand Women and Men in Conversation" states,

There are many major differences in the conversational styles between men and women which lead to gross misunderstanding. There are gender differences in ways of speaking, and we need to identify and understand them. Without such understanding, we are doomed to blame others or ourselves- or the relationship- for the otherwise mystifying and damaging effects of our contrasting conversational style.

Intimacy is key in a world of connection where individuals negotiate complex networks of friendship, minimize differences, try to reach consensus, and avoid the appearance of superiority, which would highlight differences. In a world of status, independence is key, because a primary means of establishing status is to tell others what to do, and taking orders is a marker of low status. Though all humans need both intimacy and independence, women tend to focus on the first and men on the second. Conversation is a way of achieving intimacy or connecting for women and independence or status for men.

So it seems that women use communication as a way of connecting/bonding with their male partner. Men however, value doing things together (hiking, tennis, going to a ballgame) as a way of connecting. Both sexes doggedly hold on to their way of connecting, thinking that their way is the best way. However, it doesn't always work well.

Women find talk about sports, cars, business, or their male partner's insistence on solving problems instead of talking with them, very boring. They feel their partner doesn't have much empathy about things in their lives, and that they lack an understanding she craves, which eventually filters down to-- you don't care! Men on the other hand, have been fairly open that feelings hold a low priority in their lives. Men like action, doing stuff together; they don't like that touchy-feely stuff. As a consequence both sides feel their partner lacks understanding of how a good relationship should function. They see the other person at fault for the deterioration of the relationship.

Joe Tenenbaum in his book, "Male and Female Realities: Understanding the Opposite Sex", cites brain research which suggests that differences in the structure of male and female brains might account for differences in verbal abilities.

The human brain consists of two hemispheres, the right and the left. Each hemisphere is responsible for different functions. Males predominantly use the left hemisphere, which is responsible for reasoning, rational thought and logic. Right side of the brain is responsible for such functions as abstract thinking, communication and spatial perception. Brain researchers have found the male and female brains are anatomically different. Women's brains are better able to send messages back and forth between the right and left hemisphere. As a result, right-brain functions, such as verbal fluency, comprehension and other language abilities, come more naturally to women. Although men excel in areas requiring logic and rational thought, they are simply not as good at expressing themselves.

Men and women process life from different parts of the brain and have an expectation that their partner sees things the same as they do. If they hold onto to this expectation too tightly and aren't willing to change and compromise, as the musical states, "There will be trouble in River City".

What to do? Mm! What I know, or think I know, is that when a person feels really "listened to" and the tone they are hearing is conciliatory and not critical or judgmental, they act more favourably toward the other person.

We men have to actively work at being good listeners, minus the superior, sarcastic, or judgmental tone. Men need to understand that they don't have to solve the issues when their partner talks to them about their concerns. No, instead they just need to listen and throw in a few empathetic statements like
"Wow that must've hurt?", or "How did you do that?".

Women, on the other hand, need to be aware that sports, business--men's stuff, do need to be explored. Both sexes need to understand that how they see the world is not the only way for it to be seen- your partner sees it differently and you need to acknowledge that in your behaviours.


Many men claim not to understand women. This is because they do not understand the definition of words as used and understood by women. In the interest of helping men to better understand women, here's a list of such words, and their real meaning as defined by women:

Fine: This is the word we use at the end of any argument that we feel we are right about but need to shut you up. NEVER use fine to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.

Five minutes: This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so I feel that it's an even trade.

Nothing: This means something and you should be on your toes. "Nothing" is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. "Nothing" usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and end with the word "Fine".

Go Ahead (with raised eyebrows): This is a dare. One that will result in a woman getting upset over "Nothing" and will end with the word "Fine". 
Go Ahead (normal eyebrows): This means "I give up" or "do what you want because I don't care". You will get a raised eyebrow "Go Ahead" in just a few minutes, followed by "Nothing" and "Fine" and she will talk to you in about "Five Minutes" when she cools off.

Loud Sigh: This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement very misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing".

Soft Sigh: Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. "Soft Sighs" are one of the few things that some men actually understand. She is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe and she will stay content.

Oh: This word followed by any statement is trouble. Example; "Oh, let me get that". Or, "Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night". If she says "Oh" before a statement, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is "Fine" when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least 2 days. "Oh" as the lead to a sentence usually signifies that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie more to get out of it, or you will get raised eyebrows.

"Go ahead" followed by acts so unspeakable that I can't bring myself to write about them.

That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. "That's Okay" means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you retributions for what ever it is that you have done. "That's Okay" is often used with the word "Fine" and used in conjunction with a raised eyebrow "Go Ahead". At some point in the near future when she has plotted and planned, you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.

Please Do: This is not a statement, it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance to tell the truth, so be careful and you shouldn't get a "That's Okay".

Thanks: A woman is thanking you. Do not faint. Just say, "You're welcome."

Thanks A Lot: This is much different than "Thanks". A woman will say, "Thanks A Lot" when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way, and will be followed by the "Loud Sigh". Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the "Loud Sigh", as she will only tell you "Nothing".
                                   Author "no longer with us" /unknown


Reader Response
 I have recognized this pandemic affects everyone differently. How I see it-
 Health care and Essential services = tired
Working from home =missing the office
Unemployed = worried about finances
Not employed =lacking purpose
Bored =watching too much Netflix
Living alone =very lonely
Addictions = increasing
Loss of loved ones = limited ways to honour them
Home schooling= time and resource challenges
University students= frustrated with navigating online learning
News obsessed= anxious
Personally, I found information about the 4 happy human hormones helpful;  trying to create new healthy habits that beneficially affect the levels of serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin.
As a front line soldier, I started daily yoga stretches with positive affirmations to calm and prepare myself before each shift. I breathe deeply and walk a puppy before donning a mask for many hours.  Then, unwind with relaxing music and knitting before bed. Together with regular exercise, I monitor my hydration, and consciously eat a rainbow.  In our family's most uncertain and lowest days, we started a gratitude journal ...because there is always something to be thankful for ?


What you write is very interesting, Dan. While men and women are similar in many ways, since we are all human, and since the gap of difference has been lessened due to the advances of feminism, and women having so many more opportunities to excel, I still see a lot of differences between the sexes. But you have stimulated some thinking, as I am not sure that I can articulate with specificity what those differences are. My good friend Peter says things like, "men don't talk on the phone: and even "men don't talk" might be one fair comment.


I am very concerned about the above bills before the Leg and there has been much written about the second one in particular.

I am asking you to consider adding your voice to opposing these measures. You may get a yard sign to indicate opposition or take an active approach by writing your MLA.  The measures are quite draconian in dealing with issues which the present system can address if changed the right way. John Wiens' articles in the WFP go far in explaining the drawbacks.  I would like to see suggestions to address the system of taxation for education as well as the perceived leadership issues. The plan does little to address the issue of low scores in standardized testing.

If you read the description of the function of the school community councils (each school is to have one), you have to scratch your head about the thinking and knowledge of the creators of such a plan.
Finally, having two children working at university and in public education, and nine grandchildren in public school, I have a pretty good idea of how the pandemic is affecting them and their education. Pulling the plug on the system at this time is cynical and unfeeling to say the least. I could use a lot of strong language at this point.

I feel that as former educators we should add our voices to the mix. For my part, I am writing to MLA's and sending them articles (in case you missed it, Sir, Madam?) from the paper.  Don't be shy, guys.  Putting pen to paper gets one's adrenaline pumping.


Best of luck to all you parentsstarting home schooling tomorrow. Let us know how it goes.