February 3, 2009

My Wife Is A Plate Of Spaghetti

This is the second post in a three-part series. Read the first part here.

Previously we talked about how men are like waffles. Men process life in little boxes, usually only spending time in one box at a time, and enjoy staying in a box until that "issue" is dealt with, whether it be a watching a movie or finishing a project at work.

Women on the other hand, are like spaghetti.

From the book Men Are Like Waffles – Women Are Like Spaghetti by Steve and Pam Farrel:

"If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempted to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles and you might even switch to another noodle [seemingly] seamlessly. That's how women process life. Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way. Life is much more a process for women than it is for men."

This is why women can multi task effortlessly. This is why women often feel the need to talk things through. And, listen up here, guys: This is why women want to talk to you about their problems but don't necessarily want you to try and fix them! All of life is a process, and we as husbands either help or hinder that process.

"In conversation, a woman can link the logical, emotional, relational, and spiritual aspects of the topic. These links come so naturally that the conversation is effortless for her. If she's able to connect all the issues together, the answer to the question at hand bubbles to the surface and is readily accepted.

"This often creates significant stress when a man and woman talk because while she's making all the connections, he's frantically jumping boxes, trying to keep up with the conversation. The man's eyes are rolling back in his head while the tidal wave of information is swallowing him up. When the woman is finished, she feels better and he's overwhelmed."

Usually after this tidal wave of information the question, "So what do you think?" comes out. Shoot! About what? What do I think about what? About what she was looking for at the mall, or about taking this new job, or about her relationship with her dad when she was little! What?! What?! Or maybe that's just me.

When I was younger I used to have a lot of friends who were girls. One thing they used to all say to me was that they enjoyed talking to me because I was a good listener. I always smiled and said thank you, but inside I was feeling completely lost. I wasn't participating in the conversation because I had no earthly idea what I should say! I didn't know how to keep up in the conversation so I just remained silent.

This is why a wife typically takes things more personally than her husband; a casual comment about tonight's dinner not being your favorite is not just a comment about dinner, it's a comment about her whole life. While you were simply answering her question about how you liked the meal, what she heard was that you don't think she's a good cook. Which implies that you don't think she feeds the family well. Which implies that you don't think she can take care of her kids. And that makes perfect sense because you're always asking to go out to eat on Sunday afternoon which she never liked because her family always ate lunch at home on Sundays and so the only reason why you wouldn't want to do that is because you actually wished you were married to the girlfriend your mom always talks about with such fond memories!

Wait, what? No...Yes?...um...I don't know! You thought you were just in the box of answering the question about dinner. You jumped into the "Question About Dinner" box, fixed the problem, and jumped out. Now on to the "Help With Dishes" box. The only thing is, to her you weren't in a waffle box, you were on a plate of spaghetti, and you just grabbed onto a noodle that was connected to noodles that go years back.

I hope you can all appreciate the humor in this, but I'm sure that most of you will seriously relate to these situations as well. If both sexes will understand these differences, arguments like these will become fewer and fewer.

It is very important that both the men and the women realize that this isn't an excuse, it's simply an explanation. If the husband can come to terms with the fact that this is how his wife was designed, he will keep himself from getting overly upset and resentful for his wife's processed lifestyle. He will spend more time seeking to give her what she does need, instead of shutting off and retreating to an easy box, like zoning out and watching a game. If the wife can understand that this is how her brain works, she can work extra hard to clue her husband in on where her thoughts are going, and be more patient when he gets lost. She can also work extra hard to not take things so personally by understanding that her husband was directly responding to the situation at hand, and didn't mean to associate it with any other event in the relationship.

In the next post we'll talk more about waffles and spaghetti and how a marriage can thrive (not simply survive) through understanding the strange differences between man and woman.



  1. What great stories you have to share. Thank you! I look forward to reading more of your insightful posts, and will be happy to recommend this site to my dear husband! :)

  2. I am so glad that you said: "This is why a wife typically takes things more personally than her husband" because I am a woman and I think it is absolutely nuts to react to your husband saying "that's not my favorite dinner" by thinking that means you don't take care of your kids properly. I don't even see the connection! I personally think women need to learn the box concept and take an answer from their husbands for what it is - an answer to the question you asked and nothing more.

  3. How very insightful. I am reading this after my wife and I had a "discussion" while I was in the "finance" box. I understand now why we were not on the same page. She is a plate of spaghetti. I'm a waffle.

  4. Thank you, Thank you so very much kind sir, You may have just saved my marriage. Maybe he really does love me and we've just never heard or understood the waffle and spaghetti theory. I'm willing to give it a try again. Yet again.
    To him I've just been an emotional wreck of a sensitive individual, always relating things that have nothing to do with each other. To me, he's an insensitive, selfish being with 'one channel' head like my mother calls it. I'm a plate of spaghetti, he's a waffle (make that two waffles).