Keep It Simple
Of course, there is a material difference between the way we talk to our female friends and the way we talk to our spouses; there has to be.
I don’t have to go shopping with Anne, but couples are mutually involved and invested in domestic matters, including parenting, providing shelter for themselves and their offspring, and deciding how to spend money. We are, after all, in partnership with one another, so sometimes you have to bridge the gap by mastering a common language.
In most cases, men and women do understand each other, but I have found that when I make an effort to speak in a language men can easily understand, my message gets across more successfully. In my experience, it’s well worth the effort, just as it is worth it to learn any language. My school-perfect French may never sound truly French to a Parisian, but the practice I put into it makes it much easier for me to have a joyful time vacationing there then if I was reading phonetically from my guidebook. The visit is much richer for the time it takes to brush up on my vocabulary.
Let me use another example of from the realm of female friendship. A female colleague of mine works at home. By now, I can basically tell by the tone of her “Hello” whether she’s deep in the middle of a work project or simply unloading the dishwasher. If she’s busy and there’s a question I absolutely must ask her, I get right to the point. If she sounds like she has a little time to chat, I handle the conversation differently. I’ll inquire about her family or our mutual acquaintances, mention a book or a performance that made that made me think of her, or shared data on a mutual patient. I talk to most men the way I talk to my friend when she is busy. And here’s what you can do.
- Make simple, declarative points, and order. If you want something done, outline it clearly and simply.
- Don’t guild a lily, illustrate your points with anecdotes, or even use unnecessary adjectives. A poet I met once said he imagined that every word he wrote cost $20. I have found this a useful editing tool in my conversations with men.
So many of the arguments we have with our male lovers and husbands stray from the topic at hand. Once you’re angry, it’s easy to get in touch with every single hurt feeling you’ve had in the relationship, and it takes a great deal of self-control to stop yourself from hurling old accusations, even when they have nothing to do whatsoever with what sparked the original argument.
This can wreck real havoc on our relationships. I realize that banishing the memory – and the impact – of a previous argument or betrayal is easier said than done, but I suggest that you make an attempt, when you are arguing, to restrict your discussion to the immediate incident at hand.
Dr. Marianne Legato, Professor Emerita of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University is an internationally known academic physician, author, lecturer, and specialist in gender-specific medicine. She is founding member of the International Society for Gender Medicine and also the founder and director of The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University and its next iteration, The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine. These enterprises are the first collaborations between academic medicine and the private sector focused solely on gender-specific medicine: the science of how normal human biology differs between men and women and of how the diagnosis and treatment of disease differs as a function of gender and sex. Her ground breaking textbook on Gender-and Sex Specific Medicine has been published in 2017 in the 3rd edition.
She has published extensively on Gender and Sex Specific Medicine, both scientifically and for the lay public. She is also the founding editor of the journal Gender Medicine, and the Journal Gender and Genome, published for the scientific community. In 1992, Dr. Legato won the American Heart Association’s Blakeslee Award for the best book written for the lay public on cardiovascular disease. She is a practicing internist in New York City and has been listed each year in New York Magazine’s “Best Doctors” since the feature’s inception in 1993.