Years ago, in the middle of a heated argument between a young couple in my office, the husband suddenly started gazing out the window and ignoring the escalating voice of his wife. This seemed to be a bad move on his part because if she was angry before, now she was infuriated.

“"See, that’s what he always does. We’ll be in the middle of an important discussion and then he just shuts down. Complete silence. I really can’t put up with it anymore.”

The fascinating thing was that this husband was so good at disengaging himself from the tension in that room, I don’t think he heard a word anyone said for the next few minutes. So I spent that time explaining to his wife that his temporary “silence” was completely normal. Some men need a way to calm themselves down during arguments so they don’t lose control, and that’s how they do it. And sometimes, men are just silent because they really have nothing to say, not because they are still angry or resentful.

The Torah teaches us that G‑d created men and women not just with different physical bodies, but also with unique spiritual capacities. That why Judaism teaches us that our souls become whole when we marry our soul mates. The depth of the joy at a Jewish wedding reflects this miraculous uniting of two different perspectives. We complete each other, but that doesn’t mean that it will always be simple to understand one another.

Part of building successful marriages depends on learning to hear what our husbands are really trying to say. So here are eight things that men say and what they say they mean in women language:

1. “I’m going to be a little late. Let’s be in touch.”

What women think: He’s going to come home a few minutes late. I’ll keep dinner in the oven.

What men really mean: I’m totally swamped at work. I have no idea how late I’m going to be, and I’ll try to call. But don’t get worried or upset if I don’t call because I might forget.

2. “I know exactly where I am.”

What women think: He knows the way. We’ll get there soon.

What men really mean: I’m not sure where I am, and I don’t know what’s wrong with this GPS, but I’ll figure out how to fix it. I basically know the general area, so there’s no use panicking yet.

3. “I’m not angry.”

What women think: He wants to keep talking about this. I thought he was upset, but I guess he’s not.

What men really mean: I’m a little angry. OK, maybe very angry inside. But just give me some space and stop talking about this. Let’s take a breather, and I’ll deal with this on my own. And please don’t keep asking me if I’m angry. Actually, can we just move past this altogether?

4. “I don’t care either way.”

What women think: Why is he so upset? Why can’t he tell me what he wants? Why wouldn’t he care?

What men really mean: I really don’t have an opinion about this. Whatever you choose is really fine with me. And the quicker you choose, the happier I will be.

5. “Can we talk about this later?”

What women think: This isn’t a good time for him to talk, but he’ll be ready to discuss it later today.

What men really mean: I don’t want to speak about this anymore. Ever. So I’m going to try my best to indefinitely postpone dealing with this until you catch on that “later” means never.

6. “I just want you to be happy.”

What women think: Why is he saying this in the middle of this argument? It’s totally disconnected from what we were talking about.

What men really mean: I have no idea what you’re talking about it or what you want. In fact, I have completely lost track of what we were arguing about for the past two hours. This means I just want to find a way to end this argument and reset your mood back to normal.

7. “What tone of voice?”

What women think: He’s using such a rude tone of voice. Why is he speaking this way to me? Is he trying to start a fight?

What men really mean: Sometimes, I really don’t mean to send messages via my tone of voice, and it makes it 10 times worse when you tell me I’m using the wrong “tone” of voice when I’m doing everything I can to hold myself together and not lose it.

8. “I’m not a control freak.”

What women think: Why does he keep telling me what to do and how to do it? Does he think I’m totally incapable? He says he’s not being controlling, but he won’t stop giving me “tips” and instructions.

What men really mean: I’m not being controlling. I’m just explaining why if you don’t do the the way I’m telling you to, you will probably regret it. It’s not that my way is the only way to do this, it’s just that it’s the way that makes sense.

When I first got married, I thought that speaking to my husband would always be like speaking to one of my best friends. And sometimes, it was and it still is. But there are other times when we need to work hard just to understand what the other person is trying to say because we are each coming from such vastly different perspectives. And that chasm of communication can only be bridged by working every day to understand each other’s words and to believe in the Torah’s promise that if we see the beauty in each of our separate pieces, we will find a way to build wholeness together.