4 things my wife needs to remember I can’t do (and that your man can’t do either)

(photo from awkwardfamilyphotos.com)

As we walk out of Amor de Brazil after her birthday dinner, she says, “Why did we go there? I feel like a caveman! You need to go back and take your buddies.” She’s half-joking.

Men walking around with meat on sticks asking, “Want some?” What a great concept for a restaurant. Brenda enjoyed the surprise, sampled everything, and loved being together. But it wasn’t her thing.

I took her there because I wanted her to experience something different and I had no idea what kind of surprise she might like. So I made an executive decision.

After forty years of marriage I have accepted that there are some things I cannot do. Picking a place to eat for her is one of those. She of course has known this all along, but she may have hopes that it can change. I know at least four things that will not change and so here’s a reminder of these Four Male Marriage Incompetencies that we all have to live with.

1. I can’t read your mind

If you’re going to tell me, “I really didn’t want to eat there,” AFTER we eat there, then you can tell me before :). No, the birthday dinner was not an example of this, but every other time we eat out is. Seriously, I want to know beforehand, because I want to make you happy.

I don’t know how you feel.

I don’t know what you want.

I don’t really know if you’re happy.

I should know (if I really loved you!), but if you haven’t told me, assume I’m clueless. This applies to the serious stuff, not just where to eat.

So you could: Pretend you’re married to a person with a piece missing–the ‘read your mind’ piece. Then assume you have to make up for that missing piece by telling me how you feel and what you want.

And I should probably: Ask you and believe what you say. Revolutionary, eh?

2. I can’t keep up with your logic and thinking

Seriously, you’re way too fast for me. This is not a compliment or a complaint. Before I understand what you just said, you move on. So I try to move on with you but my mind can’t nimbly change subjects like you, so I end up back yonder somewhere.

Then it happens again. And again. In the same conversation. In the same minute. Now I’m WAY back there. I’m so far back there I can’t even hear you anymore. That’s what that blank look is on my face. When I say, “You have to stop,” it’s not because I don’t want to listen or because I disagree. It’s because I’m tired and must rest.

This frustrates me, and leads to us bumping heads. We may not even really disagree, but since I don’t understand what you said or what you want–And then you pause and expect a response! Yikes!–I just do the best I can with the little I understand.

You’ve heard that men think in boxes and rooms. It’s true. Now, we definitely look for ways to connect the boxes and rooms, but for the most part we must leave one room in order to enter another. Your rooms don’t have walls. You live in all the rooms at once.

So you could: Slow down. Just talk slower. Realize I don’t know you just changed the subject. Pause. Say, “Do you understand what I’m saying?” If I say yes, say, “OK tell me what I’m saying.” If you say that and it bugs me, remind me I told you to ask.

And I probably should: Lighten up. No need to get frustrated. A frustrated man is not very attractive, right? (See I DO remember what you say). And I should ask questions as you go to make sure I understand.

3. I can’t stop trying to solve your problems

It’s a man default. It goes with my manly chest and my virile head of hair (hahaha!) I know you just want to be heard, and I do want to just listen, but I can’t. I

must . . .

solve . . .


The chances of this changing are the same as the chances of you hating chocolate. This is actually good, because when you DO have a problem to talk about, here I am wired and ready.

So you could: Give me a heads-up when you just want to share your feelings. Yes, you actually have to say, “I’m not asking you to fix anything.” No, it probably still won’t work.

And I probably should: Ask you, “Do you want me to fix anything?” This is where you would sacrifice your desire to just share and be heard, and you would say, “Yes! Please fix it!” so that I might have my purpose fulfilled :).

Which reminds me . . . (#4 continues after this)

Sorry for the distraction. Finally . . .

4. I can’t be Jesus for you

I’m just a man. I cannot be a source of deep inner satisfaction for you (that hurts me to say because I want to be that).

You know all those wonderful love songs about how awesome and perfect and wonderful the other person is? Those songs are about Jesus’ perfect love but the songwriters don’t know it. That love exists, but not from a man, not from me. It’s not fair to either of us for you to expect that of me, and it hurts our marriage.

So you could: Let Jesus be Jesus, and let me be me. Go to him for what only he can give, and to me for what a man can give.

And I should: Try to be more worthy of your love, even if I can’t be Jesus. Because you deserve a far better version of me than you’re getting.

What else does a wife need to remember? Are there other Male (or Female!) Marriage Incompetencies?

Looking for relief in your most challenging family relationships?

My name is Gary Morland, and I’d love to join you on your journey to a family that roots for each other, and help you find that relief and peace and joy.

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About the Author


Gary Morland helps you feel better about your most challenging family relationships, and helps you actually improve those relationships - all by adopting simple attitudes, perspectives, expectations, and actions (the same ones that changed him and his family).


  1. Amen.

  2. This is so BANG on (forgive the pun, that nail video is ridiculously funny). What a wonderful post. You could’ve written it for husband. Only, I’m the one who tries to fix things in our marriage, so that nail vid is for me as the wife. I must have hairs on my chest (actually, no I don’t, thank goodness!). I’d like to add another one: 5. I will never ask for directions and always rely on the Sat Nav even if it tells us to drive off a cliff face. Solution: not sure. We haven’t cracked that one yet. Maybe that’s down to the fact that I love maps and like using my brain to find where I’m going, whereas he loves technology. Its a guy thing.!

    • Ha! A few years ago I IGNORED the gps because I thought I knew better . . . even though I had never been there before . . . and it was NYC. Guess what happened?

      • Well, go on….! My imagination has gone wild…something to do with teh Hudson River and getting wet?!

        • Just plain old got lost and had to backtrack. We WANTED to go to the Hudson River but I was too smart to get there

  3. Pam Cason

    Oh Gary! This post is so spot on! And the video clip? Hilarious and so ridiculously true! My man always sees the obvious and I’m too stubborn to see it sometimes : ) I’m trying my best to remember #4 . . . still working on it. Thanks for sharing this today. I’m going to pass it on.

  4. Mindy

    I loved this so much. Especially #1. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Just read number two to my wife over breakfast. The cafe we’re at now thinks something is wrong with us be because of the snorts and laughter.

    Great stuff. Thanks.

  6. Nancy

    BEST. POST. EVER. I am sure my dear husband would agree. I may read it to him as an after dinner treat tonight. 😉 Just to let him know that “I get it”. Even if I forget sometimes. :/ I try to look for that “lost” look on his face but sometimes I’m just on a roll and don’t want to lose my momentum. :)

  7. M

    Why does it have to be SO confusing/ complicated? Yet, somehow, this makes ALL the sense in the world lol;) Always enjoy your posts G!!! Blessings & <3 M

    • Actually Marnie, to guys it’s quite simple :)

      • M

        What is simple? The way you are wired or the way we are wired? Lol:) Teehee…m

  8. So good. I often have to say “Don’t fix this, just listen.” But sometimes, he can fix it and I love that too!
    I can’t be Jesus for you took me years to really get. Wish we could teach our young adults this.

    • My wife actually said one time, “Poor man–I tried so hard to let you be Jesus for me.” It was a relief but disappointing too, because guys want to be it all. Thx Amy

  9. These are all truth. I have had many of the same conversations. “I’m not a mind reader” I’ve said that so many times. Dropping hints to try to make me think something is my idea feels manipulative. Just tell me what you want.

    Also I’ve that it takes women something like 2 seconds to respond to something while it takes men up to 11 seconds. I think about things. Internalize then respond thoughtfully.

    Thanks for sharing a ton o’ truth.

    • Ain’t nobody got time for that ‘internalize and respond thoughtfully!’ Too many things (words) coming at you at once, right? Ooops, forgot this was public :)

      Thanks. And btw your blog is cool

      • Whoa! An unexpected compliment from someone I admire! Thanks!

  10. Maggie Bair

    Well said! Still working on all of these really. Just read to hubby. He said yep, spot on! He also said I do the problem solving thing all the time too. Man, more work to do!

    • It’s kinda fun – laughing at our differences :)

      • Maggie Bair

        That is the best way to deal with it, isn’t it! You know the Lord has to be laughing at us being so silly some time.

  11. raisinghappy

    Ha, spot-on post. It reminds me of a talk I came across awhile ago:

    My husband and I couldn’t stop laughing at how true it was.

    I always say that success in anything, including relationships, hinges on knowing your limitations/boundaries. Once you know the parameters, you’re able to adjust your expectations and work with what you’ve got.

  12. Bonnie-Jean Newman

    Thank you for that! I’ve been married to my husband for for 18 years and over these years had gradually come to realise all these things but it’s still so helpful to be reminded. I must say though that the ‘It’s not about the nail’ clip was brilliant and helped me to really understand my husband’s frustration when I tell him that I just want him to listen and not solve the problem.


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  2. […] 4 things my wife needs to remember I can't do (and that your man … http://www.garymorland.com/(photo from awkwardfamilyphotos.com). As we walk out of Amor de Brazil after her birthday dinner, she says, “Why did we go there? I feel like a caveman! You need to go back and take your buddies.” She's half-joking. Men walking around … […]

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