by Erma Bombeck
I have publicly stated that men speak approximately six words a day in their homes. A few readers have challenged me and want to know what the six words are.
I should have qualified my statement. The six words are not necessarily spoken in sequence, nor are they necessarily spoken to wives.
A friend of mine, for example, has a husband who saves his six words until the Carson show has signed off and she is fast asleep. Then he snaps on all the lights in the bedroom, punches his pillow, shakes her out of a sound slumber and says, “Did you turn off the hose?”(6)
Some men will blow their quota at one time.
They’ll garage the car, make tracks to the kitchen, take the lid off the fry pan and announce loudly, “I had it for lunch.”(5) Then, realizing he has used only five words, he will add, “Yuck!”
Others will spend a half dozen words in obscenities directed toward Bobby’s bicycle in the driveway.
My week gets off to a slow start but builds to a feverish climax. Monday, Me: “Say something.” Him: “What ya want me to say?”(6) Tuesday, Me: “What kind of day did you have?”
Him: “Don’t aggravate me. You wouldn’t believe.”(6) Wednesday, Me: “Try me.” Him: “Where’s the rest of the paper?”(6) Thursday, Me: “We had a crisis here today.”
Him: “The dog isn’t lost, is he?”(6)
Friday, Me: “Guess what? Know who called today? And is coming to dinner? And is bringing her new husband with her? And can’t wait to talk your arm off? Are you ready?”
Him: “No. No. No. No. No. No.”(6)
Saturday, Me: “I’ll be out for a while. I’ve got some errands to do at the shopping center.”
Him: “Admit it. My chattering gets on your nerves.”(8)
Sunday, Me: “Do you know you spoke eight words to me yesterday? I wouldn’t be surprised if you were starting a new trend.”
Him: “Don’t count on it.”(4)
Part of man’s silence is woman’s doing. We created the strong, silent, masculine image. The silence represented deep thought, a repression of emotions. A quiet man was an island of mystery, a challenge to probe and discover as years went on. I always thought a quiet man was subtle and romantic.
But that was before I started arguing with the tropical fish over which channel we were going to watch.
The art of communication doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Some folks just don’t like to talk much. Others talk incessantly without ever really saying anything. But when it comes to marriage, communication is one of the keys to success. Those who master this skill are likely to enjoy a meaningful, fulfilling, productive relationship. Those who continually fail to understand each other, however, often feel isolated and alone. It is a major contributor to divorce.
We’ll offer some tips this week that can improve your communication skills. I hope that by next Sunday your daily word count will be at least in the double digits—and even more, that your partner will understand what you say.
- James C Dobson