“Gracie (that’s my nickname), men are like waffles and women…well, women are like spaghetti…”
It was an early Saturday morning years ago when I sat across from my dad at a local coffee shop diner listening to him ramble about this new book he had read called, “Men Are Like Waffles and Women Are Like Spaghetti.” Like most young, 20 something daughters who could care less about the importance of knowing why men and women act, think, and communicate differently, I zoned out. Maybe even rolled my eyes. But ten years later, and in the throes of infertility and not knowing why my husband acts or responds in the manner that he does when dealing with it, I am more interested now more than ever in this whole waffles and spaghetti concept. So interested in fact, I bought the book (shhh, don’t tell my dad). And let me just say, it is fascinating (don’t tell him that either, he might make me say he was right).
For the last two years I have often wondered the reason behind why my supportive, yet seemingly clueless husband just stares at me when I am crying about a friend announcing their “whoopsie” pregnancy. Doesn’t he have bitterness and jealousy issues too? Or when I get another negative pregnancy test, how come he is not on the floor ugly crying with me. Doesn’t he feel crushed? Or why is it that when I want to talk about our infertility struggle, he shuts down. Gets defensive. Or in my mind, completely irrational with his hope that “everything will be okay.” And why must he always try to solve everything? Can’t he just listen?! (I see you nodding your head in agreement.) But the truth is, he probably can’t.
And it’s because he is like a waffle. And me? I’m more like a plate of pasta…specifically, spaghetti noodles.
Ladies, have you ever looked at a plate of those long, skinny noodles? If you were to pick one and follow it closely, you would see that it touches, even connects to another one…and then another…and then another. They are all linked and intertwined. And much is the same with how we, as women, process life. Every emotion, every issue, and every conversation is connected together with other emotions, other issues, and other conversations. They all unite and interweave together. This is why when your best friend announces she is pregnant, it brings back the emotions you had three months ago of when you got a negative pregnancy test; which then reminds you of the feelings you had when you cried in the bathroom at a baby shower, that somehow leads to you imagining how the perfect idea you have pinned on pinterest to announce your own miracle pregnancy will never happen. You see, your friend’s pregnancy announcement, it’s not just a pregnancy announcement. If it were, you might be able to handle it. Instead, it’s one event touching another event which crosses over to a painful emotion that reminds you of the fears you have hidden and tucked away inside the secret places of your heart. And as a result of them meshing together, you process them together.
This is a stark contrast to our better half. Because like I said earlier, they are more like waffles.
I don’t mean our men folk are like waffles in the sense that they waffle with their decisions and are unstable and fickle with their emotions, although some might and are, but rather because they process life in boxes.
Let me see if I can explain without quoting the entire book. If you look at a waffle, you will see a collection of boxes separated by walls, right? These boxes help create convenient holding places for things such as butter and syrup. This is typically how a man processes life. Their thinking is divided up into boxes and they can only live in one box at a time. For instance, your husband has a work box and so when he is at work, he is at work. When he is fishing, he is fishing. When he is watching sports center, he is simply watching sports center. Ladies, this explains why your husband can be watching television and seem as though he is in a trance, unable to notice even a fire sweeping through the home.
In addition to our men folk compartmentalizing their life and responsibilities into cute little boxes (I like to picture them with pretty bows on top), they are also problem solvers by nature. Therefore when an issue arises, they take it, stick it in a box, size it up, and work immediately to find a solution. Sounds great, right? Well, sort of. The problem with this is they will only spend most of their time in boxes they know they can succeed in. And the ones that confuse or make them feel like a failure, they put on a shelf in the back part of their brain and ignore. This also holds true for communication. If they can’t solve it or understand it, they more than likely don’t want to talk about it.
(And I can hear all of the men quietly saying, aaaamen.)
But women? Oh, no! We like to talk. A lot. And we like to talk about everything, especially when dealing with a stressful issue, such as infertility and everything it entails. And here is why. When we feel our noodles are all in a jumble, all of our emotions, all of our issues and all of our conversations need to be processed and put into their proper place. And for women this “noodle filing” is usually done by talking about the issue from every possible angle (spiritual, relational, emotional, logical). It makes us feel better when we do even if the problem never gets solved.
Men on the other hand, don’t talk just to feel better.
For men, testosterone reduces stress and it’s stimulated through solving problems. Conversation about a problem that does not involve some sort of resolution will actually lower his testosterone levels, and he’ll start feeling uncomfortable and bored. Maybe even confused, stressed, defeated. And dare I say it? Worse for actually having the conversation.
Are things starting to make sense, ladies? Are you starting to understand why it is that when you try to talk to him about your struggles, he never seems to hear a word you say and when given the chance, he quickly changes the subject, or better yet, offers you simple band-aid solutions like, “It will all work out”? It’s not because he doesn’t care. But rather, because he does care. And he cares deeply and passionately. That’s why he has more than likely placed this issue, the issue of infertility, where it is. In a box, taped up, and on the top shelf in the very back of his brain. It hurts him too much to think about it. It hurts him too much to talk about it. And it hurts him in ways that are unimaginable each time he sees your heart aching. Each time you take the medicine, each time you are poked and prodded, each time you leave a doctor’s office in tears…he has to open up the box and look at the contents. And because he doesn’t know how to understand all of the feelings involved, and because he doesn’t know how to fix the issue at hand, he quickly closes the box, tapes it shut, and again, tucks it in the very back part of his brain.
As wives we need to understand these boxes because sometimes (not all of the time) we need to help him leave his infertility box where it is…on the top shelf, in the back. Does this mean you should never talk to them about your struggles? Your painful emotions? Or the bad days that rock you to the core? No. That’s not what I am saying at all. This is not a “get out of jail free card” per say. I am just suggesting that you don’t need to let him see you ugly cry (different than the normal cry) after every negative pregnancy test. Or complain to him every single time you see a pregnant woman in the grocery store or hear of yet another pregnancy announcement. (Perhaps save that for a girlfriend or your journal.) Or maybe if you do need to talk to him about it, you go ahead and let him think he is solving the problem and bandaging up your wounds with his band-aid words of hope instead of lashing out at him for being too optimistic.
I know that for me, I don’t talk to my husband every day, or even every week about our struggle. I don’t let him know when it’s ovulation time (how is he supposed to jump in his sex box if I just made him open up the infertility box too?). I also don’t let him know about the pregnancy announcement on Facebook that made me want to punch the computer screen. Or point out the pregnant woman who caused my womb to ache. Instead, I just find another plate of spaghetti…I find a friend. I confide in her. I spill my guts out to her. I cry on her shoulder and complain of how unfair all of this can be. And I know that because she intertwines her thoughts and emotions like I do, she gets it. She understands the pain in my heart and the frustrations that overwhelm my soul. This is why I feel so strongly about the need to attend an infertility support group and the benefits that can come from it. But in the event I can’t talk to my friend or attend a support group, I grab a blanket, a box of Kleenex, and my journal and process my noodles through writing it out on paper. I may not always find a solution when I do either of these things, but I always feel better when I am done.
Ladies, our husbands like to stay in the boxes that cause them satisfaction and bring success, so let’s help them. If we keep pulling out a box on a daily basis that does the opposite unnecessarily, science shows that their testosterone is going to be lowered and we are going to see them withdraw. Even crumble. And we might even start to see them resent us and our strong desire for a family. And again, it’s not because he doesn’t care. The fact is he cares so much it hurts.
* Disclaimer: This article is my opinion. The information I have given is based upon what I have gathered from reading the book, as well as from talking with my husband and other husbands who are also dealing with the struggles of infertility. I realize not all men will act, think, or respond in the same manner I have shared. Everyone is different. I would also like to emphasize once again that we still need to talk to our husbands about life’s struggles. This is not a “get out of jail card” for them. But at the same time, I believe we need to just be more mindful of when and how often we do.*
If you live in Southern Illinois and would like to join my once a month infertility support group (The Nest), I already have a seat saved for you! All you need to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for directions and details!
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44 thoughts on “Men Are Like Waffles”
Wow wow wow. Thank you. I read this entire article while nodding my head. You have hit this square on!!! It is going to change my way of thinking and improve my ‘crazy lady convos’ with my husband. It make so much more sense now why I can have a 30 minute convo about possible surgery plans that intertwine with buying a house that go into why I’m annoyed at child number 3 for a friend while he sits there with eyes squinted and then replies “it will be ok” 😫😫😖Thank you so much!!! 💖
Yes, girl!! So glad this has helped you!!! Love ya! And if you ever need another plate of spaghetti…come find me 😉
I absolutely needed to read this! It is so, so true. I am learning to be patient with my husband for his optimism, for wanting to fix things, for not just sitting in sadness with me, for not just understanding why certain things set me off. Thank you. It’s just good advice, and makes me feel less alone. And it doesn’t mean he doesn’t care.
Wow! What a great analogy that makes a lot of sense understanding my husband, but also my father.
So glad this made sense to you 🙂 Hugs! xo
so true! thanks for summing it up
No problemo! Hugs!
Thank you! I’m going to check this book out. My favorite piece of advice you gave is letting the sex box be separate from the infertility box. Maybe this explains why when I’m so excited to do “it” because I’m about to ovulate, he shuts down if he knows that’s why I want to do it. Maybe it makes him sad that he hasn’t been able to “fix” this issue yet. I need to stop picking up 2 of his boxes at once. 🙂 Thank you!
This is awesome! This book sounds interesting…and thank you for now making me want some waffles!! (BTW…Gracie is my #1 girl name pick!)
hehe! Gracie is an awesome name 😉 My middle name is Grace but my Dad always called me Gracie
I love it 🙂
Great stuff here as usual 😘😘
Thanks, girl! xo
Ha! I don’t know if I have ever heard or thought about this, but isn’t that so true. So thankful that God made us different though… He sure knew what he was doing.
Wowzers! This is very powerful! I never really thought of women as spaghetti noodles…. Always needing to have someone nearby, which does help me figure out why I always get so depressed when I feel alone. Nor have I ever thought about a man as a waffle (though I’m hungry now, thanks), who has things in separate “rooms” in his head. Or how men are “do one thing at a time” type people, and most women are usually better multitaskers.
It makes a lot of sense! Thank you for sharing!
I’m gonna have to get my hands on this book!
Oh my gosh this is so true! My Husband is getting better at this, I think because I have changed the way I have talked to him about things. I sat him down and explained what went through my head when I reacted to things certain ways and how I needed him to support me when this happens. Two of the biggest things that have come out of this is if he hears me crying around a certain date every month he knows it means we have not conceived that cycle and he knows to just come in the room lie down next to me and hold me so I know he is there. The other thing that has come out of it is that he no longer tells me to “relax”. I used to feel like screaming at him whenever he would tell me that.
I am definitely spaghetti, I feel a lot and I feel it deep. I have been good at bottling these feelings in the past, but I am to the point in my life where I feel like I shouldn’t have to bottle an emotional burden when others are inconsiderate etc. This change in my perspective has made me a lot more forthcoming with my feelings which has also meant I am dealing with them better which has helped the whole waffle/spaghetti bridge build as well 🙂
Genius. Thank you for sharing this. My poor husband’s waffle boxes….I keep trying to fill them with spaghetti! This analogy puts into perspective what I could not put my finger on.
Definitely reblogging this! Perfectly explained!
Thank you so much 🙂
Reblogged this on Tales of a 30 Year Old Nothing and commented:
It all makes sense now 🙂
This is a fantastic analogy. Thank you so much for sharing it! The first year we were TTC (nearing year No. 4), we definitely encountered much more of the sex-infertility box conflict. As the months went on with nary a squinter, he got much more on the same page when I said it was go time, and I also didn’t push it if one of us really wasn’t into it. We both compromised a bit, which made the overall TTC experience less stressful. Now, I express my annoyance at another BFN (which sucks even more that we’re paying for IUIs now, and they still haven’t worked), and he hugs me and says that “I’ll always love you, no matter what” and “At least we still have each other.” I know that’s meant to be comforting, but all I want to hear is, “I’m sorry. That really sucks.” And that’s what I get from my girlfriends and my support group. So yes, you nailed it. I don’t usually let him see when I get super ragey at a BFN or yet another Facebook pregnancy announcement because I know he doesn’t care about it like I do. It’s done wonders for my mental health and the overall TTC process in general.
Thank you for sharing!
Couldn’t disagree more about this rampant generalization. My husband has been fucking awesome through our infertility struggles and I wouldn’t DARE “go talk to a girlfriend” instead of him after a negative result or if I am feeling sad. Are you kidding me? We all have both estrogen and testosterone in our bodies and I get pretty damn sick of the lowering of expectations from both sexes to the “oh haha that’s just how men/women are”. Most of this is society/culture based and people love to categorize others when things don’t make sense. My husband is not some neanderthal man-cave guy who can’t empathize or communicate, and he certainly does not act like a “waffle” any more than I do. These kinds of stereotypes are veiled sexism, removing accountability from both sides. Some may agree because they too were fed the whole line about the genders being so vastly biologically different, but I know from many relationships ,not just mine, that there’s way more nurture than nature at play when it comes to how we treat each other as human beings.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions. I truly appreciate them and respect them. Like I said in the disclaimer section at the bottom of my article, not every husband will react or think in the same manner I have described. But I do want to thank you again for taking the time to respond and share your experience with me and all those who will come across this page and your comment.
I found myself thinking about this at church this am. I love the context of the entire thought. It fits my marriage almost perfectly. Perfect, personal and meaningful.
Thank you 🙂
So glad this has helped you. I realize not all men/women will act in this manner.
What a marvelous post! Elisha, you have such a wonderful way with words, encouraging, enlightening, entertaining, all rolled into one perfect package. I’m saddened for the reason you originally started your blog–although I believe with you that God will give you your Josiah! However, I am very, very grateful that you do blog because you are such a tremendous blessing to me and to everyone else who reads your delightful posts. You go girl! 🙂
Oh goodness! You are so sweet and such a wonderful source of support to me!! I can’t thank you enough! ❤️
Lovely article and nice theory. Not sure if I like to think of myself as spaghetti but men and women are most certainly different and it’s better to keep that in mind than being frustrated.. thanks for the reminder! xx
Thanks girl! In the book, the author states that he used the analogy of waffles and spaghetti simply for the fact that men understand food and analogies with food ;). I had to giggle.
This is wonderful! I clicked the link with a little eye roll because of the title, but now I’m sitting here in tears because THIS IS SO TRUE! I never thought about it this way, and I never considered that it actually might be painful for me to force hubs to open different “boxes” when he was not ready or able to process what was inside.
Though I never really “got it” before, I will say that his maddening sense of “it will be okay” or “this is the month” or “it will all work out” became oddly comforting after a while, because I wasn’t (and am still not) able to look at the world that way.
Thank you so much for this post. 🙂
Hey Elisha- I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now. I just wanted to say thank you for putting your feelings and thoughts out there, not an easy thing. I’m in my 3rd year of infertility struggle and I definitely felt like a pile of spaghetti this week. Crying in the car on the way home from work because I found out my cousin is coming to town with her new baby ( should I go or stay home?), having a meltdown at dinner because I babysat my nephew and he was a total terror and I thought no wonder I’m not a mom I’d be horrible at it, thinking about mother’s day at church ;(. Then I’d beat myself up because I let it all break me. Thanks for reminding me we all have raw moments right? My experience with my husband has been different, literally the best listener in the world he teaches me so much about empathy and compassion, but my family has not been as supportive/helpful at times. We all have been given different journeys. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.
Thank you so much for commenting your sweet words of support and encouragement! My husband has also been so supportive, but there are some emotions and thoughts I have that while he tries to understand, He can’t. But nevertheless he still tries and offers his support. They are so sweet when they do!
Yup, this is oh-so true for us! My poor guy wants to fix everything — “Well, let’s set an appointment!” “We can just adopt! I would love any baby that becomes mine just as much!” “Since we don’t know what’s wrong, we can’t give up yet!” — and this reminder is helpful for me to keep in mind. He isn’t meaning to downplay how devastated I am sometimes. Thank you!
I think there is something very true about this analogy and has positives too. At times when we are not crying or raging, being around someone who doesn’t want to talk about the infertility box every day is a good thing. I do have support from my partner when I really need it, but on “normal” days, when I have a fleeting infertility thought or worry, knowing his approach helps me to leave it, focus on other things and well.. enjoy life.
I think you summed up really well what is true for a lot of couples, even if not for everyone, and even for those it is true for, maybe not all the time. Thanks for blogging it! 😉
ahhh, thank you so much for this! I realize this isn’t the case for everyone, but I was hoping for those it does relate too, it could help them. I am passionate about marriages not crumbling during this time and was really just trying to help. Thank you for reading and taking the time out to comment! Hugs!
I just read this post out loud to my husband. You know what he said? “This woman is a genius” 🙂
Bahahahaha! I sho’ wish I was a genius! LOL! You tell him thank you for that vote of confidence today! I needed it 🙂
I received the “Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti” book for my wedding. My husband and I both read it on the plane to and from our honeymoon. Thank you for the remainder!
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