Sometimes, He Really Is Thinking About Nothing

By:  Davida Brown 


A Nothing Box? Are you serious? That can’t be real, right?  Wives, for many of our husbands it is.

A few weeks ago my husband and I were headed to one of the marriage retreats we attend annually.  At one point during the drive, my husband began starring out of the window.  After about 15 minutes of silence, I asked him what he was thinking about.  He responded, “absolutely nothing.” 

Now full disclosure here, I didn’t believe him.  How could he possibly stare out of the window for 15 minutes and think about nothing.  Impossible.  I didn’t push though.  Clearly something was on his mind and he wasn’t ready to share.  I actually started to get a bit ticked because we were on our way to a marriage retreat, so this was the perfect opportunity for him to share and communicate with me.  I mean that’s what we as coaches often share with our clients.  Communicate.  Communicate.  Communicate. I knew something was on his mind and the fact that he didn’t want to share it with me was upsetting.  But, I let it go.  This however would be on my list of topics for us to discuss in the future.

Fast forward, we’re attending a seminar at the retreat and the presenter, Mark Gungor, starts talking about the “Nothing Box.”  Now I’ve heard and I know that many men have the ability to checkout at times.  But a “Nothing Box”, that seemed a bit extreme.  Well the presenter starts explaining how men and women’s brains are wired differently.  He likened the female brain to the internet.  He explained that women like to consider everything at once, go everywhere at once mentally, explore everything at once and make lots and lots of connections.  We love to see how one thing can possibly relate to or be influenced by another.  And we are always thinking. Well, that was 100% accurate for me.  There’s not a minute in the day that I’m not thinking about something. 

He then explained that men think in a very linear way and compartmentalize things.  According to Gungor, everything has its own box.  There’s a work box, a family box, a friend box, a chore box, etc.  And, these boxes never touch.  He then said that a man’s favorite box is the “Nothing Box”.  It’s the box they pull out when they want to get away from everything.  And when they’re in the Nothing Box, they actually think about absolutely nothing.

This was very eye-opening for me, because to this day I can’t envision how it’s actually possible to not think about anything.  I looked at my husband who could immediately tell that this was new knowledge for me.  He asked me why it was so surprising because he tells me all the time when he’s in his “Nothing Box”.  He then asked, “So basically, you thought I was lying?”

I did. I absolutely thought my husband was lying because I couldn’t conceive that he wasn’t thinking about something.  I thought about the countless hours I’d spent with female friends over the years where we talked about why our men weren’t open and weren’t sharing, all of which were triggered by a single response, “I’m not thinking about anything.”

So wives, if you ask you husband what he’s thinking about and he responds, “nothing”, accept it. A “nothing” response doesn’t have to mean he doesn’t want to talk to you, that there are problems he’s not ready to address, or that you have communication issues in your marriage.  It often only means he has nothing at that point in time to say because he indeed is thinking about nothing.