I am NOT a Female Dog

April 20, 2012

in the generous life

Yesterday’s post got me a few emails from gals who were upset or uncomfortable with the word “bitchy.”

I don’t much like the word either, but I recognize it as a reality when it comes to men and how they can see women (the post I quoted was written by a man to men).

That said, women typically have “many words.” If you add a grumpy attitude (however valid or not) to the “many words” it feels very “bitchy” on the receiving end. I think if anything, we need to learn from this perspective and try to beat it.

But how do we do that? How do we communicate anger, hurt, need, etc. without sounding “bitchy”?

My general thinking is that men and women need to bend toward each other’s gender language when they can.

(It would be really, really nice if guy’s could just jump right in and understand that we need to talk out our angst (sometimes at great length). It would be great if they were amazing listeners and then would open up and share at a heart level. While some men are better at this than others, it’s still a language that they are trying to learn and a challenging ongoing study for them.)

But since this is a gal’s list …
… I will speak to you (and me). On our part we need to understand that simple and to the point is a good thing. Speaking respectfully and kindly are also good. It’s OK to be angry, hurt, etc., but launching into loud recriminations are not going to get us heard or solve the problem. It’s likely to give us the label “bitchy.”

Communication is a two way street and we need to keep our side of the road clean and driveable (my spellchecker doesn’t like this word, but dictionary.com says it’s OK)  

I think as a matter of maturity, we ought to pray, settle our emotions, gather our thoughts intelligently and then find a time that is good for both husband and wife to share about our concerns, our needs, our wants, etc. I like word pictures. They help your spouse connect with concepts and keep what you are saying from sounding like an unending stream of words (guys really can get overwhelmed by sheer volume).

Look for red flags. I watch for things like repeating myself multiple times, dragging in other issues (keep it simple and focused), frequently interrupting my sweetie, changing my tone or volume (in the not good way) and character assassination (you always or you never).  If I see any of these things, I stop, apologize if need be, and explain that I’m obviously not communicating well. I take a break, take a breath, look for an analogy or ask for prayer.

I figure just like guys get to learn and practice, I get to learn and practice too. I’m a grown up. I can talk (relatively) calmly about an issue and make my perspectives plain.

So can you.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  Proverbs 31: 26  ESV

Image credit © Paul-andré Belle-isle | Dreamstime.com

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A nice challenge from Do Not Disturb ~ 30 Day Challenge: Communication + 30 great questions for conversation starters.

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Discover The value of acceptance in marriage.  I love the story Robert shared from Dr. Gary Chapman’s conference. (from Ferguson Values)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie April 20, 2012 at 2:56 am

I think it is one thing for us as women to say that we are *bitchy* – and an entirely other thing when a man says so – or calls us the *B* word. Name-calling is abusive and I think sometimes people have difficulty distinguishing between the two.

I think the points made here about how we are communicating when we are upset is translated to the opposite sex were quite valid and useful. I am still a work in progress, but I’ve come a long way baby!

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Angela April 20, 2012 at 4:24 am

I still think the article (men’s & women’s regardless) could be written without using the word “bitchy.” It’s an unnecessary word to use. There are other, better, more Christian-like ways to describe the concept.

“I don’t much like the word either, but I recognize it as a reality when it comes to men and how they can see women (the post I quoted was written by a man to men).”

In almost 10 years of marriage I see I have been blessed that my husband has never called me that, used that word to describe my behavior, or said that word in my presence.

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Valerie April 20, 2012 at 7:21 am

My husband and I read two books written by Shaunti Feldhahn & Jeff Feldhahna a few years ago that gave us a deeper perspective into each other and the other gender as well. I strongly recommend them. They are entitled “For Men Only” and “For Women Only”. Shaunti did “anonymous” -in the sense that the guys/gals would not be implicated for their replies- surveys and questioned some more. They are an easy read. I read both of them and asked my hubby questions about the “For Women Only” to see if it applied to him or not. I also let him know where things didn’t line up in the “For Men Only”. It was a big eye opener for me. Wow!

You can find them as a set here:

http://www.christianbook.com/for-men-only-women-2-volumes/shaunti-feldhahn/pd/5490?item_code=WW&netp_id=420093&event=ESRCG&view=details

To answer your question:? How do we communicate anger, hurt, need, etc. without sounding “bitchy”

I need to get alone and calm down. I think it’s best if you can talk to God about it and remember to honor your husband, not tear him down; love your neighbor as yourself. Take care of yourself by getting the rest you need and be sure to have God/me time EVERY day. He wants to be a part of all of our day, not just a piece of it.

I finished reading a book which talks about bringing hornor into our home -it seems to be rarity in today’s society;I know I didn’t learn about it in my home. The title of this book is “Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes . . . in You and Your Kids!”

Remember that practice makes… sense. Because I don’t know that I’ll ever be perfect. :)

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Jesse April 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

I like this post! So many of us are taking ourselves SO seriously!! I mean it’s a word, we need to put on our big girl pants and deal. My hubby and I have a very open and communicative relationship. We have worked very hard on that. Many hours, years, have gone into learning be honest, open and communicate. Sometimes that means I go to him and let him know I am feeling b****y, or grouchy and that I am praying about it, but I may snap at him. I ask him for patience, and to kindly let me know in that moment if it happens. He does the same.
We have to accept that we are far from perfect and be honest with ourselves, before we can begin to accept our spouse for who they are. It is a process. That involves time, work, and tons, and tons of prayer!!! God is so loving and full of Grace.

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The Generous Wife April 20, 2012 at 8:49 am

Thanks so much for your thoughts, gals.

Language can be a very difficult subject to navigate as words mean different things to different people. Regardless of where you stand, hopefully we can learn something about communication and dealing with our gender differences.

Thanks also for the book recommendations. I liked Feldhahn’s books as well. I’ll have to look into the whining book for kids (I’m sure it would help adults as well).

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Angela April 22, 2012 at 4:01 am

That’s okay. I’ll gladly leave my “tinker bell panties” on and avoid the word “b*tchy.” I don’t believe it is necessary to be a grown woman, in a grown relationship, to be “mature” that you “have” to be able to be “okay” with using or hearing that word. If you are, fine. However, there’s not a line drawn that says all the ladies wearing “big girl panties” use it/are okay with it, and all the “tinker bell panties” are the ones who have a problem with it.

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The Generous Wife April 22, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I don’t think that maturity means you have to like the word “bitchy.” I think it’s more about acknowledging the reality of how women are sometimes seen, owning what part we may personally play in that perspective and doing what it takes to change that. As mature, believing women we need to be gracious and learn to communicate well.

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Tony April 23, 2012 at 7:25 am

I just wonder how many who are not comfortable with the b-word as used here are OK with the various derogatory terms used about men.

After all, men are called dogs, they are called children, they are said to only think the the “little head” and any number of other, equally offensive terms.

It does seem that subtle distinctions and the ability to critically assess what is said is a skill that is lacking in the US. One variant of the b-word describes the person, another describes the behavior. But how many are unwilling or unable to exercise the mental effort to understand the difference, let alone understand the important information presented by the person using the word.

I’m not saying someone should. I agree, we should have the emotional intelligence and vocabulary to speak to our mates.

But at the same time, I think we need to have some grace for our spouse as well. Perhaps they have tried to use more gentle language and you have not demonstrated you understand the messages already presented by continuing in the behaviors that your spouse finds troubling?

Who knows the circumstance?

As someone said above, keep your side of the street clean and try to understand where the other person is standing. Perhaps if you were to look at your behavior through his eyes, you might say the same thing about yourself. I’ve seen some who refer to their own behavior that way.

Finally, if your husband hears you refer to others using the b-word. I.E. you say to him, my boss is being too b-wordy today, why would you expect him to treat this word any differently than you treat it?

I wonder how many who take offense at being on the receiving end of such words have no trouble using them to describe others?

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Joann April 23, 2012 at 8:00 am

I found this fascinating and meant to comment instantly. A few days later, here I am. It reminded me of a PBS show on the way men and women remember things. The gist is that men remember the big picture, women remember the details. (I am generalizing here)Given that, it makes sense that women communicate differently than men do. (Many words vs. a few perhaps?) It seems like if we are expressing ourselves at length, and the men are going for the big picture, it may well be that the big picture is “bitchy”, rather than the one that we wanted to present, because the details are important to women, but perhaps not so much to the men. Anyway, I thought I’d throw that into the mix. I find it extremely valuable to remember this when trying to get information from my DH (e.g., “X had a baby” Me: boy or girl? Size? How long in labor, . . . – first couple of times DH had no information. Now he has a bit more, but it is kind of funny!)

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TC Thompson May 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I don’t like that word either… more reason to not act that way.

For people who say the word “bitchy” is not Christlike, are we acting Christlike when we are not revering our husbands? Nope.

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