A Discussion of “Man-Speak”…

Among my BFF’s, my husband is the undisputed KING of translating Man-Speak.  Seriously. They bring over their dating troubles, relate conversations that make NO sense to them, and he gives them some possible translations.

He loves it, they love it…it’s been a great system for a while now. But you can understand why I sometimes forget that, as a guy, he’s wired differently than I am. Take this conversation we had in the car the other day…

We were both lost in our own thoughts (or so I thought) and I reached over and held his hand, feeling all happy and cuddly. Then I asked that age-old female question that most men hate:

What are you thinking about?

Over in the driver’s seat he smiled, which I took to mean that he was thinking about something VERY cool. (I don’t know what possessed me — I know better…) Anyway, here’s the conversation, word for word:

Me: Come on…what are you thinking about?

He stopped at a red light and said, “Honestly?”

Me: Yes!

Him: Driving.

Me: That’s it? Just driving? (I mean, really, who actually thinks about driving unless the weather’s nasty?)

Him: Well, I’m thinking about where we’re going and noticing that silver sedan has a tail light out. The driver in that green car two lanes over is talking on the phone and not staying in her lane—

Me: OK, OK…I get the picture.

And quiet reigned once more in the car (since driving isn’t a remotely scintillating subject).

When we got home, we started discussing how many thoughts are usually circling in my brain while he stays focused on the task at hand (he’s an engineer, I’m a writer…enough said).

Then he says: Sometimes I’m not thinking much of anything…I’m just hanging out in my Nothing Box.

Me: Excuse me, where? *narrowed eyes* Is this some new term for porn?

He assured me that it wasn’t and dragged me to the computer. My dude was nearly giddy over the chance to explain the Nothing Box to me. After watching the video below, so many things became clear!

Note: If at all possible, watch the following video with a member of the opposite sex!

Whether you are a man wishing to be understood, or a woman wishing to figure out the keys to “Man-Speak”, I highly recommend this video. I promise to discuss Man-Speak in even GREATER detail in a future post.

Do you believe that men and women think differently? Is Mark Gungor (the comedian) onto something with this Nothing Box business? Did you already know all about it? Enquiring minds love  to know these things here at More Cowbell!


REMINDER: My sponsor post on chasing your dreams and overcoming fear is up today at the ROW80 blog if you want to go check it out! Click here.

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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66 Responses to A Discussion of “Man-Speak”…

  1. Oh, yes! Men and women so think differently! My husband tells me that, for the most part, he thinks about either sex, beer, or nothing. LOL. That’s not entirely true as he runs a successful business and has a daughter, but still.

    Someone once gave me this analogy that I think rings true – men’s minds are like waffles, women’s like speghetti. Men compartmentalize. They solve a problem and move on. Women’s thoughts are all linked like speghetti noodles. That tree over there has really long branches which remind me of the long road to my childhood campsite which reminds me of all the mosquitoe bites I got and how infected those bites got which reminds me of how sensitive my skin was and how I’d have to take this really nasty medicine that I couldn’t keep down…

    You get my point. 🙂


  2. Coleen Patrick says:

    Oh how I identify!! My husband is also an engineer! 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Coleen, I’ve found that many, many of us writers are married to computer guys and engineers. I think it strikes a great balance. 🙂 I always tell my husband he’s “my brain.”


  3. Oh my gosh. We totally watched that video series in our Sunday School class. Hysterical. Best marriage advice ever. My husband is often in the “nothing” box! Being a writer, I’m always in some other box…


  4. my ex husband was usually in the nothing box. I never am.


  5. I think it might be nice to own a nothing box – as a sort of personal destruction series – how long can I keep this sucker empty?

    This is a great video – would have helped if I’d seen it BEFORE my marriage ended..oh wait, that wasn’t really box related….

    BUT – this is quite helpful as I don my hip waders and delve back into the minds of men in the dating world……

    Thanks for the reminder – they really do have a nothing box!


  6. Great article and link – thanks!


  7. I asked my husband if he ever thinks about nothing and he said only in REM sleep 🙂 He says he’s always thinking about something (I have a feeling he thinks an awful lot about bigfoot).


  8. Julie Glover says:

    Yes, I have known about the nothing box for a while. (I think Shawnti Feldhan, Christian author, discusses it too.) Anyway, living with three guys, I am the one considered to be weird in my house! A recent conversation at my supper table went a bit like this:
    Boy1: So how do you think about several things at once?
    Me: I just do. Thoughts just fly through there all the time.
    Boy2: What are thinking right now?
    Me: Well, I was thinking about what you were saying, and how that art over there is crooked, and about needing to clean the kitchen, and how your hair needs to be cut, . . .
    Hubby: You’re thinking sequentially, though. Just fast, so it seems like it’s all together.
    Me: Not really. I mean, some of it, yeah. But I can juggle 3-4 thoughts at once, no problem. I can listen to each kid saying something different and hear both of them. I don’t know how. I can’t figure out how y’all think about nothing.
    Boy1, Boy 2, Hubby: [stare at me like they are thinking nothing]
    Dennis Prager has said that if a man and woman switched brains for a day, the man would go crazy and the woman would be yelling, “Free at last!”


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I LOVE that Dennis Prager quote…that’s just awesome. And incidentally, I find men and boys to be very peaceful – I have enough constant thinking going on, without having someone else going at it too.


  9. Laura Drake says:

    You forgot to mention that we also borrow your hubby for advice on our male characters. He’ll always bust me when one of my heros is thinking like a chick. So appreciate him!

    If I thought like my husband, I’d head for the knife drawer.
    That’s all I’m saying.


  10. Oh, we have this conversation at least once a week. He maintains that when he’s stressed, he doesn’t want to talk about it. How can you not want to talk about it?! The video was spot-on in that respect. My brain would explode if I didn’t talk about what’s bothering me…LOL


  11. Gene Lempp says:

    I was going to post something clever…but nothing came to mind.

    So I’ll just *smile*


  12. We go by John Gray’s term “man cave” in our house, LOL. It’s not just a room any more. I love how Gray talked about a guy’s mind.

    “Honey, what are you feeling?”

    “Um…” Guy switches from whatever he was actually doing/thinking and checks out the ‘feeling’ room of his brain. He gets stuck there awhile. Then goes to the ‘thinking’ room of his brain to put it all into words. Goes BACK to the ‘feeling’ room to make sure he’s still feeling the same thing.

    But before he can get to the ‘speaking’ room of his brain the woman gives up in disgusts and leaves or says something like, “If you don’t want to talk to me, well, fine!”

    The guy has no idea what just happened and usually goes back to whatever it was he was doing/thinking before the question.


    I’m completely outnumbered in my house, as you know Jenny, so I’m VERY aware of the male brain and how it differs from mine. Cause I get stared at like I have three heads most of the time!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You, Kathy Owen and Julie Glover are going to get together at a conference some day and laugh your heads off over being the Lone (Female) Ranger in an all-male household.


  13. I think men and women think differently, but not necessarily about different things – if that makes sense. I also think that society plays a bigger role than biology in what we believe is appropriate to think and say. Our personalities, upbringing and other factors also influence what we think about…don’t ya think?? 😉

    *I* think I’m getting too deep for a Monday morning… LOL Thanks for the fab post!


  14. Stacy Green says:

    I definitely believe men and women think differently, and we react differently. Women think in terms of emotions, and we tend to overreact. Men, in my experience, are more about the essentials. Add my hubby to the list of not wanting to talk about something that’s bothering him, which drives me crazy. I’m just the opposite – I want to talk it to death!


  15. OMG I dare say hubby and I have had the EXACT same conversation before. LOL!! I always find it sooo hard to believe that he’s really, truly thinking about nothing but…he is! It’s amazing how one-minded their minds can go. LOL! LOVE the video. I had seen it before but it was worth another watch. RIOT!!!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I can totally see you and Hubby having this same conversation. I could watch that video once a month and not get tired of it. I love where he waggles his finger and says that “none of the boxes are touching.”


  16. Piper Bayard says:

    It took me a couple of years to realize the when my husband says he isn’t thinking anything, he really isn’t thinking anything. Inconceivable to me. I quit asking him what he’s thinking about ten years ago.

    LOVE this video. This explains it all. What a hoot! Thanks for a great blog, Cuz.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      We’re going on 5 years so I’m still a newlywed and I haven’t learned to quit asking yet. Plus, his thought process is fascinating to me because he’s ACTUALLY thinking about exactly what he’s doing. I mean, who does that!!?? Geesh.

      p.s. You are most welcome. I started reading your campaign post earlier and got sidetracked by Baby Girl. I can’t wait to get back to it, as I was already laughing.


  17. Hmmm … I always suspected the Nothing Box existed. Thanks for the proof!


  18. Karen says:

    ROTFLOL. I love this comedian because he knows what he’s talking about. As do you. I have these conversations with my husband and son, too. Too funny!


  19. Jess Witkins says:

    This is groundbreaking information you’ve uncovered! It’s like the Rosetta Stone for gender wars! Why isn’t this shown in elementary school, it would’ve saved us all a lot of trouble?!


  20. Natalie Hartford's Hubby says:

    Piece of Man-Advice!

    Stop thinking about what your man is thinking for a variety of the following reasons:

    A) you don’t really want to know.
    B) you’ll only be disappointed in the answer – that we weren’t pounding out a great novel, symphony or solving world peace.
    C) it’s likely going to be nothing, food, tv, sports, or sex – possibly driving if safety is required.
    D) unless you are open to us answering “how to end this conversation”
    E) sounds like you got enough thinking going on in your own heads – spend some time sorting your own thoughts out – there’s no room in there for our thoughts too.
    F) and finally – men don’t have to think that’s why we have internet and wives! LOL!


  21. tomwisk says:

    Ha. Another secret out. I’ve got a Nothing Box and I spend a lot of time there. The secret of the Nothing Box is that once you’re inside and not looking stuff in the other boxes start to percolate. It used to be called “spacing” and was connected, sometimes wrongly to controlled substances. I can kick back and get into the box and while I’m there that nasty sticking point that came up in what I was working on gets a solution. Because none of the boxes touch it can be done. Zen masters have known it for years.


  22. Trip Williams says:

    Very interesting comments from the women. Of course, being a man, we have a little different view on life. I think that it’s a safe bet to say that most men “get this”! We may have a different name for it but it all boils down to the same thing. But the other important factor that is not mentioned, is that men are linear thinkers. Women on the other hand are all over the place – exactly the way it was described! Men need to focuse on one task and complete that task before being asked to move on to something else. The old proverbial “I think I’ll paint the ceiling blue” during sex is because women have to be drawn in and consumed by the event. Yah… doesn’t happen that often! so she is thiniking about other things. Interrupt that train of thought for a guy and it’s all over! We have to complete that task before we move on to something else.

    This is where the nothing box comes in. WE don’t need a task to consume our thoughts or activities. We can be lost inside this box for hours and we are happy. No task at hand to complete, no demands to move onto other tasks before the first one is complete. Yup… heaven. So when a woman does aske a man “Whatcha thinking?” And we answer “Nothing”! Take it for face value – don’t read anything into it! Seriously… there is nothing going on up there! It is ablissful state and yes… we do know that it drives women nuts; and that is because women can’t relate. Personally I think that women are all miswired . There is no insulation between the wiring and that explains all those crazy thoughts firing around at the same time. Men have this insulation and I think we are happier for it!. Just one man’s opinion…


  23. Christine says:

    I actually have seen this video on a number of occasions! I’ve used it to try and describe *my* nothing box to my husband. I guess some women have them too. Being interrupted in the middle of a task is one of my least favorite events, especially if it demands my immediate attention.

    I also don’t know when I’m supposed to vacuum the floor. I usually just pick up anything large enough to see.

    And I buy more pairs of underwear than my husband so I can outlast him and he ends up doing the laundry.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’ve got some “man-stuff” too, Christine. Trust me, it just makes marriage more peaceful. I must confess, my hubby is more laundry-focused than me but it has nothing whatsoever to do with who has more underwear. LMAO over that one!


  24. Ryan King says:

    LOL! Of course we think differently. But it’s fun that way (even if confusing sometimes).


  25. Ali Dent says:

    Jenny, I love this post. I heard a comedian one time explain this very thing so I asked my then 14 year old son if it’s really true. He smiled, paused and said, “Yes.” I told him women aren’t like that. He was surprised and smiled. “I guess you want me to know that for my future.”

    I said, “Yes, this one issue blows newly wed’s minds completely.”

    How fun was that?


  26. Fabio Bueno says:

    Okay, enough kidding around. Here’s the truth. Are you ready? Please brace yourselves. Most of the time, we are actually thinking about–
    Sorry… What were we talking about?


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Fabio, have you bonded with Gene Lempp?? He’s extraordinarily into squirrels as well! Thanks for taking a moment to comment. My husband is having a GREAT time reading the comments for this post!


  27. Jenny, I had not seen this. This just proves I need to get out more!

    My husband and I just finished watching together as instructed and laughed like crazy.

    It was hysterical, but oh so true. 🙂


  28. K. T. Wells says:

    Your car convo – classic. And the linear thinking comment – well, my husband’s face when his schedule/plan/task is interrupted is not a pretty sight. He gets “all thrown off” and it messes with him, which makes him not a happy camper. Then he has to go into his man cave (an actual place in our house) to “regroup.”

    I must say though, to his credit, he appreciates my ability to hold forty-four conversations in my head at the same time. He doesn’t want to go there personally, but he is a fan.


  29. Yes I DO believe men think differently. But I’m going to go on the assumption that this is mostly a G-rated blog and keep most of my opinions to myself. I will say this though…the very fact that a man can actually think about nothing makes me want to give them something to think about. Like, “Why are you holding that cast iron skillet like a baseball bat?” 🙂

    Very funny post, Jenny. Loved it! 🙂


  30. The rule is, the boxes don’t touch! That’s gold. Oh, yes men and women think differently. I can ask my husband something and his answer is nothing at all like I thought I’d get. Or, I can totally flip out and explain myself in three different languages, using a chart and diagrams, but he just doesn’t understand my flip out. Makes life kind of fun. By the way, my husband is an engineer, too. I totally get you.


  31. Marcia says:

    I watch that video every chance I get…it’s hilarious! Yes, emphatically YES men and women think differently. Women analyze everything, men just don’t…and that’s just the beginning! Great conversation started, Jenny!


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  33. Mari Menix says:

    So true. And sometimes I’m really jealous of my husband’s ability to think about absolutely nothing. For most of our years together we’ve tried to go to bed at the same time. I mean, it’s not a hard and fast “rule” or anything but we try. He slips between the sheets, smushes his pillows around, and pulls out his nothing box. He’s not asleep; he’s just thinking about nothing. If you put him on an EEG it would show a flat line.

    I lay down and nestle into my pillow nest. As soon as my head makes contact with a pillow an electric current goes into the wire ball and suddenly my brain, no matter how tired it was 5 minutes ago, starts working at about a million calculations a milisecond. I’m chugging along like a CRAY calculating pi. If you put me on an EEG the machine would blow up.

    Now in our early years the brain made an instantaneous connection to the mouth and the mouth spewed every thought the brain had at that point. It was a total data dump. Unfortunately, my poor hubby was absorbed with the Nothing Box and wasn’t willing or able to engage in a conversation. So I would sever the mouth connection and lay there in silence listening to him breathe and possibly drool a little. Because he was in the Nothing Box. Eventually he would get bored with the Nothing Box and go to sleep. Meanwhile I was laying there still calculating pi and the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

    To this day when my head hits a pillow my brain kicks into overdrive. I envy the hubs and his Nothing Box. But if I have a nothing box it’s not accessible. So I lay there with smoke pouring out of my ears and eventually get mad and play Tetris or Freecell or something in my head until I manage to drown out everything else and can go to sleep. The nearest I can tell, my Nothing Box got corrupted and is really the file for Spider Solitaire.


  34. Just got a chance to sit down with my boyfriend and watch this video. WOW. I think it cleared up a lot of things for both of us. And it was SO funny. Off to share! Thanks, Jenny!!


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  36. Emma Burcart says:

    Oh, wow, that explains everything! I feel like I need to share this with a lot of my friends! I have always known they don’t like to talk about their problems, but I never knew why. It has to be true. Anyone who can watch an entire baseball game is obviously thinking about nothing!


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  40. Hilarious and oh, so true! I have to watch this video with my husband.

    I’ve learned a long time ago not to ask a man those non-specific questions, like “what are you thinking about now?” It only gets frustrated and puzzled. I got enough going on in that “woman’s convoluted brain wiring” to add more confusion to it, haha.


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