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The Married Guy’s Key to Understanding WifeSpeak

Photo Credit: Creative Commons – maxi_line

More than half of the marriages in the United States end in divorce.

That being the case, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’ve been married to the same woman for more than 17 years.

One of the key reasons for the continuing success of our marriage is communication – specifically my keen ability at deciphering WifeSpeak.

What’s WifeSpeak you ask???

WifeSpeak is that mystically, arcane collection of sounds, tonations and vocal stylings that confound and confuse the male species.

This particular mode of speech tends to bud shortly after the engagement and wedding planning-stage of the relationship, but doesn’t fully onset until after the wedding night for some reason.

Some linguists believe WifeSpeak is an evolutionary advance of the more primitive form of communication known as TeenDaughterSpeak – which basically has the same unsolvable speech patterns as WifeSpeak; however, the teen-version is coupled with non-verbal eye rolling and un-explainable crying.

To help married men crack the communication code with their spouse, I humbly offer this brief lexicon of WifeSpeak phrases with their actual meanings:

We’ve Discussed This Already… – your wife is referencing some topic or issue that she mentioned to you while you were driving together or while you were falling asleep in bed more than six months ago. Be advised that there is no statute of limitations on just how far back the conversation might have occurred and been cataloged in her noggin.

We Just Talked About This… – this diabolical conversation dilemma did indeed occur within the past four weeks; however, it occurred while you were watching football, changing the oil in her car or replacing a fuse during a blackout. In her mind, the fact that she got a tool-torquing grunt or football yell is the verbal cue she needs to classify your expulsion of air as conversation.

I Mentioned This to You… - this is a particularly insidious form of WifeSpeak because “mentioned” is such a weak word. In most instances when your wife says she “mentioned” something to you, she actually only thought about “talking” or “discussing” it with you but never actually used spoken words.

I Told You About This… - if you’ve been “told” something encoded in WifeSpeak – be warned. This particular communication conundrum is reserved only for the most extreme marital interactions such as favorite restaurants to celebrate wedding anniversaries; the dizzying dishwasher machine calculus surrounding which Tupperware items and non-stick skillets go on which wash rack; as well as pending visits from your mother-in-law. Your best defense is to silently nod your head in agreement.

The unspoken reality of WifeSpeak is that it’s an ever-evolving dialect that no man will ever fully understand – especially given the fact that men are notoriously poor listeners.

The one bit of advice I can offer any husband struggling with WifeSpeak is to keep repeating this code-cracking mantra to yourself, “Happy Wife, Happy Life.”

Question: Any other WifeSpeak phrases that you’d like to share?


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  1. I am guessing, Tor, that your bride of 17 years does not frequent your site!

    Or, perhaps she does, and she was the one that provided the translations.

    Either way, thanks for the morning, “A-Ha’s!” The light is shining a little brighter this morning!

  2. lol, at least you got the right response of nodding your head yes correct. And the last sentence of, happy wife happy life, is also my husband’s philosophy in life. And it works for me too.

  3. Cynthia Herron says:

    “Honey, I left you a sticky note. Remember?”
    And love your mantra, too! :)

  4. “We can go wherever you want”… which really means– “Pick a place that I would really want to go to.”

    I’m pretty darn lucky to have an awesome wife that tries to speak Man, but every now and then I’ll have to decipher.

  5. Diana Brandmeyer says:

    OHHHH now I get why my husband doesn’t understand me. :) Funny post thanks!
    Diana-from the blog challenge

  6. So funny. Great way to start the day. Now we need a post on man speak, what each of those grunts REALLY mean!

  7. Haha! These are awesome and oh so true.

    I would add, “Nothing” as a response because it means the exact opposite.

  8. Too funny. After 16 years of marriage, maybe I should do a post on “husbandspeak”! Although, I’m not sure I could hit the nail on the head as well as you did! :)

  9. LOL! Hilarious! LOVED it!

  10. I’m confused on this point, but is the corollary to “happy wife, happy life” the oft-repeated “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”

    And just out of sheer, morbid curiosity, what’s the saying for when daddy ain’t happy?


  11. That is funny – and yes we women have used those sentences : -) Now husband speak? %^^&(*()()

  12. Hilarious…. Thanks for the laugh.

  13. Hilarious and awesome post. Thank you so much for the laugh I needed that tonight!

  14. Ali BIerman says:

    Nice piece,Tor. Observing men and women in conversation–now that is something else. Understanding each other’s language–something else again.

  15. Christine says:

    Well, you are brave, a true St George taking on the dragon. I have been married for 46 years now, and personally, I don’t think men will ever really get it right. So good on you for trying, but don’t expect to know it all.

    One that I can’t see here is one word ‘nothing’.

    The word nothing is rarely spoken by a woman without a catacomb of hidden meaning. It almost always means something, and usually it means something of significance. Of course we are not going to tell you what it means, you have to use your powers of perception and work it out. If you get it wrong, well, there you are, I knew you didn’t understand me in the first place. If you do get it right, well it was a fluke. It’s really hard to describe the reasons for ‘nothing’ but the only advice I can give you is listen really really hard to the tone of voice, for at least a clue.

    Of course, from time to time, we will use the word nothing in the correct tone of voice, in the correct context and it will have absolutely no hidden meaning at all.

    It’s your job to work out what the ‘nothing’ of that moment means.
    Good luck I say.

  16. Hmmmm, I should tip toe here, but what the heck . . .

    Tor, citing your opening statement of the 50% statistic, this warrants much closer examination to which end many have tried to scale this mountain and then assist other men with better climbing techniques, equipment and even a map.

    Taking the presuppositional route here, the crux of the problem rests on expectation and the next step in the sequence assumption.

    For women it would look something like this: I expect him to understand what I said (or thought I said or even meant to say) and then I am going to assume that he did understand. For men it looks something like, I expect her to speak frankly (which is how guys typically speak) and then I am going to assume that her words are to be taken at face value.

    Both are wrong, okay we get that, nothing new here for the battle of the sexes women from one planet and men from another–heard this before?

    Here is where the problem caches out with huge negative consequences. The corollary shut up, “nod, make peace at all cost because after all ‘a happy wife is a happy life'” really gets no where. Actually it is worse.

    The 50% statistic may only be the couples who pulled the trigger and went to court, how many couples in their later years sleep in separate beds? How many men take up golf or cars or name-an-expensive hobby as a second marriage because they are so unfulfilled after years of making nice? Men NEED to know the rules of the game, and if they change or do not mean what they appear to be then he will eventually give up and embrace apathy.

    Women too express their unfulfillment in their own ways too. Since I am not a woman, I will not try to catalog them here.

    And Christians are not immune, the physics of love are indisputable on this one. How many Christian men develop shall we say “highly corrosive” addictions? Do not kid yourself on this one.

    If you are still reading this, then I would say that the price to pay for making nice and trying to go along to get a long is complete frustration. Men want a Golden Retriever like persona in their mate and women tend to want a partner who emotes like another woman–neither will ever happen.

    So two paths diverge here: Make nice and end up like everyone else, or complete honesty and address the differences and while you are committed to the complete success of the other person build a bridge to their planet that they live on. This looks actually very intricate in real life and will likely not fit here in the comments section as I have yet to master any such an outcome after 14 1/2 years of marriage myself. But the lack of the second option leaves us with the fate of the middle of the bell curve–which let us not kid ourselves is pathetic compared to the enriched life marriage should yield for the completion of Kingdom business.

    Still not convinced? Take the perspective of Screwtape or Wormwood in the famous book by C.S. Lewis, if you were the enemy trying to come up with the best strategy, I would have to think that it would be to disrupt Christian families and make them unfulfilled thinking “this is how it has to be.” Once you got that down, you can then inject the lie that there is no purpose in trying to communicate because well, he/she cannot speak my language (expectation) and he/she will never understand me anyways (assumption) so I will go along to get a long like an American smiling an nodding when they try to order something in a European cafe when they have NO IDEA what their server just asked them. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but boy has that strategy paid huge dividends for the accuser of the brethren–just think 50% friendly fire is a sure victory!

    The better question is, “What do you mean by ‘happy wife?'” and “How do you know?” Because you may THINK that she is happy only to find yourself on the couch next to her in a counselor’s office after 30 years of marriage to hear her say, “I have given everything to that man.” The counselor will then look at you and what can you possibly say then? “I thought she was happy” will surely not cut it. Expectation and assumption have paid out their full dividends at that point. Res ipsa loquitur

  17. My husband would argue that WifeSpeak also comes with uncontrolablle crying too…

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