Decoding the Male/Female Language

Decoding Language - Stock AdobeDo you feel like you just can’t understand what your spouse is saying, or thinking? Do you wish that you had a decoding device to translate these mysteries? It would be nice, but even if you did have one, you may find the following to be true:

“Even if a man could understand women, he still wouldn’t believe it.” (AW Brown)

Men often joke that they will never understand women. And as true as that may be, you have to admit that men aren’t easy to figure out either.

Decoding Each Other’s Language

I (Steve) know that even after almost 52 years of marriage Cindy still has a hard time decoding some of the things I say. And I certainly have problems decoding some of what she says. We misunderstand the message and intent of what the other is trying to say.

Now, we’d love to tell you that we’ve learned how to de-code each other’s language and we no longer have conflict. But we can’t say that. Just today we got into a spat (and decoding each other’s language would have prevented it). But what we can say is that we’ve both gotten better at working with our misunderstandings. And this has happened only because we’ve worked at it.

With that in mind, Cindy and I came up with a few examples of our different language codes. We didn’t even realize how confusing these “languages” can be to the other! But we know now (because we’ve since talked about it). While some may make you smile, we’re hoping by sharing these, you can learn from them …a lot faster than we did.

And yes, we know that sometimes these male/female examples flip around. We get that. This is just a “tendency” of how the language code often goes. It’s not set in stone. And if what we present is not true in your marriage, then that’s okay. But look to see what you think might apply. (And then talk about it, or at least laugh about it?)


• When I say, “I can’t find it,” I REALLY mean: “It didn’t fall into my outstretched hands. So, I’m clueless and flummoxed.”

• When I say, “It’s a guy thing,” it REALLY means: “There is no rational thought pattern connected with it, and you have no chance of making it logical. So please just accept it.”

• “Can I help with dinner?” REALLY means: “Why isn’t dinner already on the table?” (I admit that I was guilty of this in the past. But more recently I REALLY do mean it when I say, “How can I help with dinner.” I’ve learned that Cindy works just as hard—if not harder throughout the day. It isn’t her responsibility to make sure I’m fed every night when I get home from work.)

• If I say, “It would take too long to explain,” I REALLY mean: “I have no idea how it works.”

• Exercise has been a big topic recently, so I’ll likely say, “I’m getting more exercise lately.” However, that will likely be more accurate if interpreted: “The batteries in the remote are dead and I actually have to walk over to the TV and change the channel.”

• When I do something and I say, “What do you think?” I REALLY mean: “I’m fishing for a compliment, and I hope for nothing other than that!”


• When I say, “Nothing” when you ask me “what’s wrong?” what I REALLY mean is: “A LOT… and please keep trying to get the answer out of me—no matter how much I resist.”

• When a woman says, “The kids are driving me crazy!” what she’s really saying is: “Could you please give me a long (non-sexual) hug and tell me that you’ll take care of the kids for a while? And then tell me to go off somewhere away from the kids just to relax.”

• When I say, “Could you go with me to…” what I’m REALLY saying is: “I really, really, REALLY want you to go with me to that location. And if you say ‘Sure!’ with eagerness (and then exhibit patience along the way) you’ve given me a love gift, more than you’ll ever comprehend.”

• When I say, “The yard’s a mess…” I REALLY mean: “Please clean it without my having to ask you directly, again. I’ll be thrilled if you do.”

• When a woman tells you at any time in your marriage that she loves it when you bring her flowers what she’s REALLY saying is: “Surprise me! Love me enough to bring me home flowers periodically. (If you need to secretly pencil reminders in your day-planner throughout the year to make this happen, then DO IT.)

• When I say, “Could you ask that person over there about…” what I’m REALLY saying is: “PLEASE go over there and ask that person. It’s really important to me.”

• When I say, “Could we stop for ice cream?” what I’m REALLY saying is: “I want (or need) ice cream right now. Please take us to get some and YOU have some too!”

Practical Advice for Both Males AND Females:

So, here’s the point of this Marriage Insight (if you haven’t already guessed):

“Don’t hint, sigh, or pout when you want something done! Usually, our spouse DOESN’T have a clue about what we want, even though you think he or she should!” (Sandra Aldrich)

Be a dispenser of grace and say what you mean and do what you should.

And if you’re a bit fuzzy on what your spouse is asking of you —just ASK! (Hopefully, more grace is given if you ask more than once.)

Solomon also offers some great advice about communication in Proverbs (that he probably learned the hard way). Here are a few that we’ve gleaned from our study of Proverbs:

Let the wise listen and add to their learning; and let the discerning get guidance. (Proverbs 1:5)

Discretion will protect you; and understanding will guard you. (Proverbs 2:11)

Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7)

The wise in heart are called discerning; and pleasant words promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:21)

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)

Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:6-7)

We hope this information will help you live with each other in respectful, considerate, Christ-honoring ways regarding each other as more important than yourself.

And to Help You a Little Further:

Here are a few articles you can benefit from reading:

Body Language Speaks Volumes

Language Lessons in Marriage

May your marriage be blessed!

Steve and Cindy Wright


To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:

7 Essentials - Marriage book


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3 responses to “Decoding the Male/Female Language

  1. (SOUTH AFRICA)  I have read quite a few comments and testimonies of “emotionally distant spouses.” They are mainly focused on the men. But what happens when a woman is the emotionally distant spouse? I am a woman of God, living fearfully under His wing. And God knows my heart and my spirit. Yet I cannot deal with the manner in which my husband chooses to live his life. Yes, I am respectful, polite and gracious to my spouse because God commands it. Yet it is for God that I do it and not the man.

    And sadly I think he knows this but will never admit to it. He takes full advantage that I am a child of the most High and choose to follow and obey His commands. My love is dying a slow death despite having tried to be the “good and noble wife.”

    So what now? I forgive him his trespasses everytime and move on. But this has damaged what I have with him. The scars last a lot longer than the forgiveness that has taken place. And because God hates divorce, I will keep on keeping on until my Maker decides otherwise. I trust that our God will bless us despite our current circumstances. May the Lord be with us all, through Jesus Christ, amen.

  2. (SOUTH AFRICA)  Dear Esmeralda, my heart goes out you and I can understand your situation because I am also in a similar situation. Yes, I agree it is easy to believe that your spouse is taking advantage of you because of your noble character and humble spirit. Please, don’t ever change one bit at least not for the worst. I believe that you are the light and life that your marriage needs, yes you might not see that because of the pain that comes with obeying the will of God. Trust me, God is watching with compassion is walking right beside you to give you all the inner strength and faith you need to stomach it all. Your efforts will never go unnoticed, yes it might take some time but my dear sister, just hang in there and let God create a miracle out of your marriage for His name sake as well as honouring your faithfulness towards Him. Yes, it will pay off one day but you will never know if you give up.

    Just allow the love of God to fill you up and heal you so that you have enough room to accommodate him no matter what. I am glad that you are doing whatever you are doing now in your marriage in the name of God, He will surely honour that. One of you in a marriage must stand up for God by doing what’s right and fortunately or unfortunately it’s you because you have not hardened your heart to the will of God. I am sure God is proud. Your time will come, when you will enjoy the benefits of holding on to God even when you felt like giving up.

    Keep on keeping on and stay connect to God.

  3. (HONG KONG)  One conclusion I sadly feel unable to avoid drawing from this statement of a “Female Language Code” is this: Women are constitutional liers.

    I sense the same, to some degree, about men, from your “Male Language Code”. I sense the implication that this is to be expected and accomodated in one another as somehow normative. I am bewildered. Bryan H.