Attention all wives: the fact that many men like the movie character Yoda does not mean we want you to talk like him.
Communication is critical to a successful marriage. That is why today I feel compelled to address an issue that plagues marriages all around the world. The problem is the use of indirect request phrases, or IRPs. When using an IRP (pronounced “urp”) wives present direct orders, or requests, disguised as simple statements of fact or innocent questions. The unsuspecting husband is expected to identify the IRP and solve the hidden instruction in order to take action. It’s kind of like the movie National Treasure without the car chases and suspense.
In another post I recently made a passing reference to indirect request phrases by pointing out how my wife instructs me to take out the trash. (“The trash is full.”) If that were the only use of IRPs I would probably dismiss it and not bother raising awareness about it. Unfortunately, the problem is not that isolated. I’m suggesting a two-prong approach to the problem. My first solution is to simply ask all wives to please…. STOP! Don’t use IRPs on your husband. In fact, every time you do we are going to call it to your attention: “Did you just IRP on me?”
My second solution is for all of us husbands to create a master translation list. This list can provide the IRP verbiage along with whatever translation has been discovered. Using this list will allow us to better identify when our wives are IRPing and to better understand what it is they are trying to say. We can use this post as a starting point. Here are my first few contributions to this very important list.
IRP: “Are you going to wear that?”
Cross Reference: This phrase may seem like a simple Yes/No question, but it should, instead, be translated as “Go change into something nicer and check back with me before you leave the house.”
IRP: “Are you finished with your dinner?”
Cross Reference: This phrase can serve multiple purposes so you have to interpret it carefully. In many cases it should be translated simply as “Take your plate to the sink.” However, if you are a tad portly, like me, this phrase may say something more like “You need to stop eating now! You can’t save the starving people all over the world by eating enough for them too.”
IRP: “We don’t have much in this house to eat.”
Cross Reference: Most men learn fairly quickly that this phrase means “Take me out to eat.”
IRP: “Is the lawn mower broken?”
Cross Reference: This IRP is not as subtle as the rest, but it still causes challenges for many men because of its Yes/No format. Men assume that a Yes/No question should be answer with Yes or No and tend to leave it at that. In this case the translation should actually be something like “Go cut the grass before we lose a pet or child in it.”
But seriously: Word games can be fun, but communication is a critical part of a lasting and loving marriage. Good communication is a powerful tool. Conflict fades in the presence of good communication. Marriages fade in the absence of good communication.
So what else needs to be added to the list? Men, please contribute to the list and help your fellow men. Wives, you can sound off too. Are men guilty of this as well?
One thought on “Lost in Translation: Indirect Request Phrases”
William Jr. Wrigley~ When two men in business always agree one of them is unnecessary.